While the study is still in its early stages, Yale University researchers say that they may have found a link between cell phone usage and behavioral problems in children, like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The study used pregnant mice and exposed them to radiation from an active cell phone. The offspring that were born were typically more anxious and had poorer memory compared to infant mice whose mothers were not exposed to radiation.
These researchers believe that cell phones could be having the same effect on children, which would account for the higher rates of behavioral problems in society. Senior researcher Hugh Taylor said, “We have shown that behavioral problems in mice that resemble ADHD are caused by cell phone exposure in the womb. The rise in behavioral disorders in human children may be in part due to fetal cellular telephone irradiation exposure.”
The experimental group consisted of 33 pregnant mice that were exposed to radiation from a silenced, but active cell phone. The cell phone was on an active call for 17 of the 19 days of the pregnancy. The control group on the other hand, was kept in a cage where there was a cell phone that was turned off.
Another researcher involved in the study, Tamir Aldad, says that further research still needs to be conducted, to see if the findings can be generalized to human pregnancies as well. Rodents pregnancies only last for 19 days, and the offspring are born with less-developed brains. “Cell phones were used in this study to mimic potential human exposure but future research will instead use standard electromagnetic field generators to more precisely define the level of exposure,” said Aldad in a statement.
Researchers say that limiting cell phone usage during pregnancy is warranted, however, they warn against applying the findings and assuming that they are applicable to humans. “This paper does not show any link between radiofrequency exposure and ADHD. The rate of ADHD problems has been steady for more than 20 years, so mobile phones are an unlikely cause. Taking animal studies and extrapolating directly to humans requires much more care. The exposure of the animals was very great, and the researchers’ tests of animal memory should not be directly equated to human attention; different species can react differently,” said Professor Eric Taylor, a child psychiatrist from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London.
Other researchers argue that motor activity in mice is not the same as the complex ADHD behavior found in humans. Still, the researchers from the Yale study hope that their findings may provide a better understanding of how these behavioral problems can develop.
“The rise in behavioral disorders in developed countries may be, at least in part, due to a contribution from fetal cellular telephone radiation exposure,” the researchers wrote. “Further testing is warranted in humans and non-human primates to determine if the risks are similar and to establish safe exposure limits during pregnancy.”Tweet