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True or false? Cellphone use during pregnancy affects the baby

For several years now, moms-to-be have been warned fetal exposure to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones may cause hyperactivity in children—causing pregnant women everywhere to say, “First you make me give up wine and sushi and now cell phones?!” Thankfully, there is some serious good news for mamas who need their mobiles: New research published in BMC Public Health shows talking on your cell while pregnant is perfectly fine. In fact, it may even benefit your baby. (Sorry, wine and sushi is still off the menu.)

According to the study authors, Jan Alexander and Eleni Papadopoulou, the previous epidemiological studies and animal experiments that led to concerns over cell phone use were inconsistent. Their own, deeply comprehensive results show no negative impact on babies whose moms talked on cell phones.

Indeed, a lot of the scary headlines linking behavioral problems in kids to maternal cell phone use cited a study of pregnant mice caged beneath a cell phone that was left on a call for 17 days. And, considering mice gestate for about 20 days, that’s nearly a whole pregnancy for them. The resulting baby mice were more hyperactive than those in the control group.

To get to the bottom of it, Alexander and Papadopoulou took a different approach by studying data from 45,000 moms and babies participating in the Norwegian Mother and Child Study (MoBa study), which is the world’s largest study following families from pregnancy. After observing the hyperactivity levels of children at ages 3 and 5, the researchers determined mom’s cell phone use during pregnancy didn’t have an impact.

“We found no evidence of a harmful effect of the mother using her cell phone during pregnancy on her child’s neurodevelopment,” they write, adding that having a mom who talks on the phone might even benefit the children during the preschool years. “We even found that the more the mother was using her cell phone during pregnancy the better language and motor skills her child had at three years of age. We observed no associations when the child was five years old.”

A previous study released this year of maternal cell phone use did find a possible association with hyperactivity and inattention problems. But even authors of that study admitted the results are unclear.

It’s probably not the cell phones themselves, but the way parents use them that’s influencing kids. And, if you really want to be safe, refrain from talking on the phone for 85 percent of your pregnancy like those mice. ?

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