THURSDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- In experiments involving
mice, fetal exposure to cellphone radiation appeared linked to
symptoms in offspring that resemble attention-deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) in human children, Yale researchers report.
Moreover, these problems with attention, hyperactivity and
memory continued when the mice became adults and were worse the
longer they were exposed to cellphone radiation in the womb, the
"The hypothesis was that the developing brain might be more susceptible to these types of insults," said senior researcher Dr. Hugh Taylor, a professor and chief of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility in the department of obstetrics, gynecology & reproductive sciences.
"We found they seem to have behavioral changes like ADHD. I don't want to sensationalize this -- mice don't have ADHD -- but they had problems with memory, impulsiveness and hyperactivity," he explained.
There have been studies in humans that correlate the amount of
time pregnant women spend on a cellphone with their children's
ADHD, Taylor added.
"But, these studies were largely dismissed because there are many other things that correlate with cellphone use," he said. "This study is the first one that shows that there is a cause-and effect-relationship," at least in rodents, he said.
However, while studies involving animals can be useful, experts
note that they frequently fail to produce similar results in
The findings cannot therefore be directly extrapolated to women,
but they do indicate that cellphone exposure during pregnancy may
have effects, Taylor said. "We need to start thinking about how
much is safe in humans and limit that exposure," he said.
"I think we need to be careful about radio-frequency exposures in pregnant women," he said. "The radiation may have consequences for the developing brain."
The report was published in the March 15 issue of
During 19 days of pregnancy, Taylor's team exposed mice to
radiation from a turned on -- but muted and silenced -- cellphone
placed above the cage.
In another group, mice were kept under the same conditions but
with a deactivated phone.
The researcher measured electrical activity in the brains of
adult mice that were exposed to radiation as fetuses. In addition,
they conducted psychological and behavioral tests.
They found the mice exposed to radiation tended to be more
hyperactive and had increased anxiety and reduced memory.
The explanation for this finding isn't clear, Taylor said. It
might be due to heating of the developing brain cells or electrical
changes in these cells, he theorized.
Taylor noted that you don't have to be talking on the cell phone
to be exposed to radio-frequency radiation: "There is always
radiation transmitted as long as the cellphone is on," he said.
Speaking for the cellphone industry, John Walls, a spokesman for
the CTIA-The Wireless Association, said that "the peer-reviewed
scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless
devices, within the limits established by the FCC, do not pose a
public health risk or cause any adverse health effects."
However, some doctors believe that more study might be
Dr. Francene Gallousis, a perinatologist at Northern Westchester
Hospital in Mt. Kisco, N.Y., said that "I think there is something
to all this, but I don't know exactly what it is or how concerned
we should be right now."
"It can't be ignored -- it needs to be looked into," she added.
Gallousis did suggest that to be safe, women should limit their
exposure to cellphone radiation. She advised them to try to limit
the time talking on the cellphone and to not leave it on if it
doesn't have to be.
Dr. Nagy Elsayyad, an assistant professor in the department of
radiation oncology at the University of Miami Sylvester
Comprehensive Cancer Center, has looked at cellphone radiation and
the risk for cancer. He also believes that it's still too early to
tell if the effects seen in mice translate to humans.
"These finding are interesting, but very preliminary," he said. "This is hypothesis-generating research, so it's too early to jump to any conclusions, but it's worth putting research money into."
For more on ADHD, visit the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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