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Cell Phones Linked To Changes In Fetal Brains

March 16, 2012
Written by: , Filed in: Neuroradiology, Pediatric Radiology
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Exposure of fetuses to cell phone radiation affects brain development and seems to lead to hyperactivity and reduced memory capacity—at least in mice.

The researchers, all affiliated with Yale University, didn’t give cell phones to mice. Instead, they put cell phones on top of the mice’s cages. Each phone was silenced but placed on a continuous active call for the duration of the trial. A control group of mice had deactivated cell phones on top of their cages.

The results, according to the study: “Overall, the mice exposed in utero to radiation were hyperactive, had decreased memory, and decreased anxiety.” The study was published Thursday in the open-access journal Scientific Reports, which is affiliated with Nature.

Hugh S. Taylor, MD, the senior author, said:

This is the first experimental evidence that fetal exposure to radiofrequency radiation from cellular telephones does in fact affect adult behavior.

Dr. Taylor, a Yale professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences and director of the Yale Center for Reproductive Biology, was quoted in a university news release.

The study attributed the negative effects to impairment the researchers found in the prefrontal cortexes of the mice. It concluded:

The exposure to cellular telephones in pregnancy may have a comparable effect on the [human] fetus and similar implications for society as do exposures to other common neurodevelopmental toxicants.

However, the study added, “It is important to recognize that the extrapolation of this animal model to humans is limited; the exposures used here are not identical to those experienced by the human fetus.”

Lead author Tamir S. Aldad pointed out that mouse pregnancies last only 19 days and that mice are born with a less-developed brain than human babies. Also, the phones were never more than 22.3 centimeters (less than 9 inches) from the mice, and even the most obsessive human cell-phone addict doesn’t use her phone 24 hours a day.

Dr. Taylor said further research was needed in humans to establish safe exposure limits to cell phone radiation during pregnancy. In the meantime, he suggested, limiting exposure seems warranted.

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