Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mobile phone radiation may influence pregnancy

How radiation coming from mobile phones affects our health has been subject to endless debate. Not just within the scientific community; rarely has something stirred up so much controversy despite a lack of scientific evidence to back up any real worries. However, scientists at Yale University have discovered something that will surely fuel this debate, as their research shows that mice can be affected by mobile phone radiation during embryonic development: it affects their behaviour during adult life.

To assess the differences between mice that had been subjected to radiation and those who did not receive anything, the scientists set up two groups. One group was supplied with a mobile phone in their cage which was put on a 24h/day call during the time of the experiment, while the other group got a phone that was switched off: these mice served as comparison. All cages were filled with pregnant mice, and the scientists kept their experiment running for almost the whole duration of the pregnancy.

After birth, the scientists tracked the mice over time, to assess any differences in behaviour or neurological function. What they found is that mice at an adult age behave in an hyperactive way after being exposed to mobile phone radiation during the embryonic stage. Additionally, memory function was found to be impaired. According to the researchers, a faulty neurological development in the brain is responsible for these changes. It seems that radiation caused the wiring in the prefrontal cortex of the brain to be slightly dysfunctional. The brain cells seemed less able to communicate with each other.

Because the prefrontal cortex in humans is an important brain area for cognitive functions and control over your emotions, it seems that the researchers at Yale have actually found something important. However, it remains to be seen whether the same results can be replicated in humans, as the absorption of radiation might be more intensive in mice. Additionally, the experiment was performed with an active mobile phone on a 24h/day call, which does not compare in the slightest to everyday situations. The results do of course call for more research regarding the effect of radiation during pregnancy. We already know that mobile phones do no harm in adult humans.

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