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For the record

"Mums-to-be warned of mobiles risk" Image

"Mums-to-be warned of mobiles risk"

On 16th March articles in the Sun, the Mirror, the Telegraph and the Express suggested that women using mobile phones while pregnant could cause their children to have behavioural problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The articles are based on a study published in Scientific Reports by researchers at Yale University, USA, who hung phones over the cages of pregnant mice and looked at the behavioural effects of their offspring. 

Here, two experts have responded for a briefing at the Science Media Centre:

Eric Taylor, Emeritus Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London:

“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 (any increase is due to greater recognition), so mobile phones are an unlikely cause.”

Professor Malcolm Sperrin, Director of Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering, Royal Berkshire Hospital, said:

“This study does not suggest that mobile phones could be the cause of ADHD in humans for several reasons:

- Firstly, the developmental model for mice bears no practical resemblance to humans (19 days gestation versus nine months).

- Secondly, the mice experienced long periods of exposure - in some cases continuously.

- Thirdly, the distance between the source of radiation and the target tissue is not representative of human usage (a few cm as opposed to a metre or so).

- And finally, power density and exposure conditions will be different between the mice and humans.”

“It is reasonable to conclude that this study is a worthy step aimed at understanding non-ionising radiation effects, but great caution must be given not to stretch the data too far until more work is done to move toward human equivalent studies.”

Document type: For The Record

Published: 16 March 2012


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