Mobile phones have been subject to various scientific experiments to determine whether they really are a health risk numerous times and the latest investigation by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles has found a link between women who use their mobile phone whilst pregnant and the misbehaviour of their children.
While the study doesn’t prove that using a mobile phone during pregnancy can cause behaviour problems in a child or suggest exactly how mobiles could bring on this issue, Dr Leeka Kheifets, an epidemiologist at UCLA who led the study believes that her team’s findings “need to be pursued.”
They looked at the data of 28,000 7 year olds and their mothers who took part in a Danish study which tracked 100,000 pregnant women between 1996 and 2002. Out of the 28,000 cases Dr Kheifets’ team investigated, 3% of the children had borderline behavioural problems and another 3% of youngsters had abnormal obedience or emotional issues. Further results showed that children whose mothers used mobiles while they were pregnant and use a mobile phone themselves are 50% more likely to have behaviour problems. However, children who don’t use mobiles but whose mothers used one during their pregnancy still have a 40% chance of developing issues regarding their behaviour. Of course, it is only 6% of those in total who are actually considered to have a problem.
Dr Kheifet was keen to stress that “it is hard to understand how such low exposures could be influential,” and to some sceptics, these findings simply add more fuel to their fire. David Spiegelhalter, who is a professor of Biostatistics at Cambridge University explained, “The authors suggest that precautionary measures may be warranted because they have ‘virtually no cost,’ but they ignore the cost of giving intrusive health advice based on inadequate science,” and he does have a point.
The World Health Organisation, the American Cancer Society and the National Institute of Health in the US have found that there is no conclusive evidence that mobile phone use can damage someone’s health. French authorities wanted to ban mobile phones in primary schools in 2009 following a six-week review of mobile phone and Wi-Fi radiation which suggested that it can damage developing brains. However, last May, experts who investigated whether mobile phones can cause brain tumours by studying 13,000 users over a 10 year period found no clear answer.
Dr Kheifet tried to account for other possible causes into behavioural problems in children such as the sex of the child, their mother’s history of behaviour issues, the stress of their pregnancy, how old they were when they conceived and also if they breastfed. Although the initial findings from this particular investigation show little proof that mobile phone use during pregnancy can affect a child’s behaviour, it seems that mobile phones will forever be fighting a losing battle with those who, in one way or another, are keen to find a reason for them not to become such a heavy part of our lives.