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Though the conclusion is not without controversy, we’ve been opining for some time that a healthy dose of precaution is likely warranted where cell phone use is concerned. There are a few too many studies out there suggesting that exposure to the radiation cell phones emit might be hazardous to the human brain. Now comes a new study showing that they’re not safe for developing fetuses either.
The study, conducted at UCLA and Denmark’s University of Aarhus, and scheduled to be published in the July issue of the medical journal Epidemiology, found that pregnant women who used cell phones just two or three times a day were 54% more likely to give to give birth to children who would experience behavioral problems (emotional issues, hyperactivity, difficulties relating to peers, etc.) than women who didn’t use a cell phone during their pregnancy. Kids who also used cell phones themselves before age seven fared even worse and had an 80% greater chance of developing some kind of behavioral trouble.
A couple of points need to be made in order to understand just how important this study is: first, this was not some little project that looked at a handful of families in a single region. Over 13,000 children throughout Denmark participated, enough to overcome factors that might skew the results like socio-economic or local environmental conditions.
Second, one of the authors of the study, Leeka Kheifets of UCLA, has previously gone on record to say that there is no solid body of evidence linking cell phone usage to adverse human health effects. This is a study undertaken by a serious skeptic, who was surprised by the results.
We’ve been getting more than a few warning shots about cell phones, and this is the latest but also one of the largest. Of course, not everyone agrees that we’re dialing into an emergent problem. There are plenty of dissenting scientific voices saying there’s no established and/or consistent association between cell phone use and brain tumors or neurological disorders. Maybe so. But we also can’t say that every single study says they’re safe.
This is why the Precautionary Principle is so important. A precautionary approach tells us we don’t need a clear and verified cause and effect relationship between a hazard and its possible cause to take action. Mere suggestion is enough. And when it comes to cell phones, we’ve got plenty of that. I’ll be happy to have my precautionary cell phone use advice proven unnecessary someday. But until then, I’m not taking any needless chances, and I would strongly suggest that you don’t take any, either, because while the studies may be wrong, what if they’re right?
Click here to call up our list of suggestions for safer cell phone use. At this time, we can’t be sure that these tips will offer moms-to-be and their children-in-waiting the same protection they offer non-pregnant adults. Until more is known, we recommend that a precautionary do-not-use policy for pregnant women as the best way to be sure that everyone stays safe.