Cellphone Use–Does its use Provide a Higher Risk for Children?

Record Searchlight, Sunday, May 15, 2016  By Andrea K. McDaniels  The Baltimore Sun (TNS)

Science divided over cellphone risk to children.

Doctors and scientists from Harvard and Yale medical schools warned last week that pregnant mothers limit their unborn babies exposure to potentially harmful radiation by keeping cellphones from their tummies because of the possible effect on brain development. The doctors offered the advice during the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting where they also said parents should limit their children’s use of cellphones, iPads, and other wireless technology because it can cause behavioral and concentration problems.

There is little research on the effect of the microwave radiation and radio frequency radiation emitted by wireless devices on children, but the doctors said early studies provide enough evidence to suggest that parents should take caution. The doctors comments could stoke a longtime debate over the health dangers of cellphones, but the industry disputed their warning. The CTIA, the association representing the US wireless communications industry, including carriers, suppliers, and manufacturers, cited a Food and Drug Administration statement that there is not enough evidence to show that cellphones can cause a health risk.

“CTIA and the wireless industry defer to the scientific community when it comes to cellphones and health effects,” the group said in a statement. “The peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless devices do not pose a public health risk for adults or children.” The group said that, in addition to the FDA, the World Health Organization, American Cancer Society, and numerous other international and US organizations and health experts, have said the scientific evidence shows no known health risk because of the radio frequency energy emitted by cellphones.

“The FCC has determined tat all wireless phones legally sold in the United States are ‘safe’,” the association said. “The FCC monitors scientific research on a regular basis, and its standard for RF exposure is based on recommended guidelines adopted by US and international standard-setting bodies.” Still, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified both microwave radiation and radio frequency radiation as  “possible” human carcinogens, the researchers at Tuesday’s conference said. They also presented early research that they say may prove an even bigger correlation.

In one study, Dr. Hugh Taylor, chair of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine, put cellphones on the top of cages containing pregnant mice. He then studied the behavior of the offspring and found that they had decreased memory and were hyperactive. “They weren’t paying attention to their surroundings,” Taylor said in a web call during Tuesday’s conference. “They were very hyperactive. They were bouncing off the walls without a care in the world.”

Dr. Martha Herbert, with Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, looked at the biological factors that can go wrong in autism and found a strong connection with the electromagnetic field of Wifi. “The fields disturb calcium going to the brain, which is supposed to regulate the flow of information at the cell membrane going into the nucleus, she said in a phone interview after her presentation. “It can make the brain get too excited and irritated,” Herbert said. “It is not inconceivable that it can cause (autism), but there are other factors that can play a role. It certainly can aggravate it.” In other brain research, brain models and computer simulations show that children absorb 10 times more microwave radiation that adults because a child’s skull is thinner and smaller.

Parents should not panic over the research, said Dr. Stephen J. Thompson, medical director of the division of pediatric neurology at the University of Maryland Medical Center. But, he said, it also shouldn’t be dismissed.