Using mobile phones in pregnancy linked to behavioural problems in children

Mothers who use mobile phones while pregnant could put their children at risk of behavioural problems

Pregnant woman - on mobile phone
Pregnant woman - on mobile phone
(Image credit: Rex Features)

Mothers who use mobile phones while pregnant could put their children at risk of behavioural problems

Women who use mobile phones while pregnant coud be putting their unborn children at risk of developing behavioural problems, according to new research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Experts warn mothers-to-be not to keep phones in their pockets or close to their baby bumps after the study found that babies who were exposed to mobile phone signals in the womb were 30% more likely to suffer behavioural difficulties by the age of seven.

Dr Leeka Kheifets, a researcher at the UCLA School of Public Health in the US, said the results demonstrated that cell phone use was associated with behavioural problems at age seven years.'

The study of 29,000 youngsters found that more than 10 per cent of children exposed to mobile phones in the womb had mothers who spoke on them at least four times a day. Almost half the mothers had their mobile phone turned on at all times and around one third of children were using a mobile phone by the age of seven.

'We are concerned that early exposure to cell phones could carry a risk,' said Dr Kheifets.

One of Britain's leading government advisers on radiation effects of mobile phones, Professor Lawrie Challis, has said on record that children should not use them until at least 12 years of age, but more than half of under-tens own a mobile phone.

The findings support earlier research, which examined data from 13,000 children and produced similar results. However, David Coggon, professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the University of Southampton, suggests mobile phones might not be to blame.

‘The pattern of results suggests that the observed increase in behavioural problems may have been caused by factors other than mobile phone use,’ he says.

'We have no evidence that a pregnant mother's behaviour is related to her mobile phone use and thereby affecting her baby,' said Patricia McKinney, professor of paediatric epidemiology at the University of Leeds.