New report calls for protecting children and expecting mothers from cell phone radiation

Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) released a cell phone environmental report calling for tougher standards to regulate cellular technologies—especially for children and pregnant women.

EHHI reviewed hundreds of peer-reviewed studies that examined the potential health threats associated with cellular device use, along with the regulatory standards that have been adopted by the U.S. and other nations.

John Wargo, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Risk and Policy at Yale University and lead author of the report, said, “The scientific evidence is sufficiently robust showing that cellular devices pose significant health risks to children and pregnant women. The weight of the evidence supports stronger precautionary regulation by the federal government. The cellular industry should take immediate steps to reduce emission of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from phones and avoid marketing their products to children.”

EHHI President Nancy Alderman said, “Children between the ages of 8-18 spend an average of 7.5 hours per day—nearly half their hours while awake—on smart phones, computers, televisions or other electronic devices. Exposures to electromagnetic radiation are increasing most rapidly among the youngest in our society, as service providers focus their advertising on children and educational markets.”

Dr. Hugh Taylor, coauthor of the report, summarized his concerns regarding neurological effects from cell phone radiation. “The human brain is especially susceptible to numerous environmental insults that can produce irreversible damage during critical periods of nervous system development between conception and full maturity.  A number of peer-reviewed studies reported changes in the nervous systems of rats, mice and humans following exposure to cell phone radiation. These include diminished learning, diminished reaction time, decreased motor function, reduced memory accuracy, hyperactivity and diminished cognition.”

Taylor explained differences in exposure between children and adults, “The thinner skulls of young children permit cell phone radiation to penetrate brain tissues more deeply than occurs in adults. Devices stored in pants pockets while in standby mode can expose rapidly developing reproductive organs to radiofrequency energy. Storage in shirt pockets will increase exposure to breast tissues. Children’s and fetuses’ rapidly developing nervous systems, more rapid rates of cell division, longer potential lifetime exposure, and longer average use per day all heighten their risks of adverse health effects.”

Wargo cautioned, “Cell phones have enjoyed exceptional freedom from government oversight and control to protect against health and environmental hazards before cell phone devices are marketed. There are no enforceable standards to limit human exposure to cell phone radiation. While the U.S. does not require any regulations to restrict advertising or warnings against use of cellular devices by pregnant women or children, many other nations do.”

Nancy Alderman, president of EHHI, summarized the group’s recommendations. “The government must take greater responsibility for testing cellular technologies before they are marketed to assure their safety, their proper disposal and to educate the public about safe patterns of use.”

Full text EHHI of press release

Maternal Exposure to Magnetic Fields During Pregnancy in Relation to the Risk of Asthma in Offspring

The conclusions of the Li et al paper support an association between a mother’s magnetic field (MF) exposure during pregnancy and asthma in children born to those mothers. Here are some of the conclusions of the study.

“Our findings provide new epidemiological evidence that high maternal MF levels in pregnancy may increase the risk of asthma in offspring.” Children born to mothers who had a median daily MF exposure during pregnancy between 0.3 milligauss (mG) and 2 mG had a 74% increased risk of asthma.  Children born to mothers who had a median daily EMF exposure during pregnancy over a 2 mG EMF had a 3.5-fold increased risk (a 350% increased risk) of asthma.

This study shows a statistically significant increased risk for asthma.  Every 1 mG increase of maternal EMF level was associated with a 15% increased risk of asthma in the child. 1.15; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04- 1.27).  A dose-response is shown for increasing maternal MF during pregnancy and asthma in the off-spring.

Comments

This study is one more that underscores the importance of limiting exposures to elevated magnetic field (EMF) during pregnancy.   There are so many studies that now document EMF exposures (using the all-inclusive EMF to cover both ELF-EMF and RF) to be potentially neurotoxic and genotoxic, we should actively be limiting indiscriminate and persistent exposure of families and their children to avoidable EMF.

Li et al previously published a study linking miscarriage to intermittent ELF-EMF exposures of 16 mG.  A few years ago, Divan et al reported that maternal use of a cell phone during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of behavioral and learning problems in children of these mothers by the time the child was in primary school. Whether it is the ELF-EMF component, or the RF component of cell phone exposures isn’t known (it may be one or both). Whether it is a function of the exposure level on the fetus in-utero, or something about the mothers’ immune status as affected by the cell phone emissions is not known either. Johansson has published extensively on EMF/RF effects on the immune system.

Sage and Johansson published a paper in Bioelectromagnetics showing that cell phones and PDAs can produce excessively high ELF-EMF exposures when worn in the ON mode (on a belt, in a pocket, close to the body). These exposures were on the order of tens to hundreds of milligauss.  Since the study did not discriminate between magnetic field exposure (EMF) and the possible presence of ‘dirty electricity’, (which Sam Milham and Magda Havas have reported to be associated with asthma in children), dirty electricity’ may be an important but unmeasured factor here. Future studies really need to address the ‘dirty electricity’ component of EMF.

Both ELF-EMF and RF are now classified as possible human carcinogens by the WHO IARC.

People need better information on EMF and health risks, so they can make educated choices about limiting exposures, if they wish to.  People also need better informed decision-makers when it comes to new technologies that emit ELF and RF on a persistent and repetitive basis, so entire communities are not exposed to involuntary EMF exposures in daily life. There is more than sufficient evidence now to actively review where such exposures come from, what the alternatives are, and commonsense ways to improve the living environment (homes, schools, offices, healthcare facilities, etc) by making more informed choices.

Cindy Sage

[Cindy Sage, MA is the Science and Public Policy Advisor for the EMF Safety Network, Co-Editor Bioinitiative Report http://www.sageassociates.net/]

Autism and prenatal ultrasound: Coincidence or Connection?

By: Nancy Evans, BS, Health Science Consultant

Autism was once a rare diagnosis. Today it affects 1 in 110 children and 1 in 70 boys.
Ultrasound was once a rare medical procedure, reserved for high-risk pregnancies. Today ultrasound is routine in almost all pregnancies in developed countries.
· More scans are done in each pregnancy than ever before.
· The intensity of exposure is nearly 8 times higher than in 1993 and the medical professionals who operate the equipment may not be adequately trained on the newer machines.
· There is a wealth of scientific evidence from international experts suggesting a need for caution in the use of prenatal ultrasound. Highlights are summarized in the enclosed document.

But most disturbing is the fact that ultrasound is also being performed by non-medical personnel in shopping malls across America. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of these facilities, aggressively marketing “keepsake” sonograms to expectant parents as an early bonding experience with their unborn baby. FDA has warned against use of these facilities but it is clear that most parents haven’t heard or have chosen to ignore the warnings.

In 2009, Connecticut became the first state to ban these keepsake ultrasound boutiques. But in most states, these facilities are very profitable franchises that may be doing irreparable harm to babies and families.

Read the Report: Autism was once a rare diagnosis

7/13/2011 update: Could Prenatal Ultrasounds Contribute To Cases Of Autism?