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Sunday, 18 March 2012 21:57

A new cellphone radiation scare: damage to the foetal brain


The latest research into the possible biological effects of cellphone radiation has demonstrated changes in brains of mice in the womb. Naturally the industry has dismissed it out of hand, but caution is warranted.

The results of the research have been published in the March 15 issue of Scientific Reports, a Nature publication. According to a press release from Yale University - where the research was undertaken: "Senior author Dr Hugh S Taylor, professor and chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology & Reproductive Sciences...and co-authors exposed pregnant mice to radiation from a muted and silenced cellphone positioned above the cage and placed on an active phone call for the duration of the trial. A control group of mice was kept under the same conditions but with the phone deactivated.

"The team measured the brain electrical activity of adult mice that were exposed to radiation as foetuses, and conducted a battery of psychological and behavioural tests. They found that the mice that were exposed to radiation tended to be more hyperactive and had reduced memory capacity. Taylor attributed the behavioural changes to an effect during pregnancy on the development of neurons in the prefrontal cortex region of the brain."

According to the press release, he then went on to link his findings to the rise in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children in recent years, saying:

"We have shown that behavioural problems in mice that resemble ADHD are caused by cellphone exposure in the womb. The rise in behavioural disorders in human children may be in part due to foetal cellular telephone irradiation exposure."

He added that further research was needed in humans to better understand the mechanisms behind these findings and to establish safe exposure limits during pregnancy. Nevertheless, he said, limiting exposure of the foetus seems warranted.

His co-author, Tamir Aldad, added that rodent pregnancies last only 19 days and offspring are born with a less-developed brain than human babies, so further research was needed to determine if the potential risks of exposure to radiation during human pregnancy were similar.

Commenting on the report, specialist news service PsychCentral said: "Other researchers warn extrapolating results from a single mouse study to humans is unwarranted, and confuses the public. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder usually first diagnosed in childhood and is characterised by a child's inability to pay attention or concentrate in multiple environments."

An authority quoted by the SMH went even further. According to the SMH "Professor Katya Rubia, from the Institute of Psychiatry at the King's College London, said linking the behaviour and brain changes of prenatal mobile phone exposure in mice to human ADHD and its increase in society was alarmist and unjustified. 'Some enhancement in motor activity in mice is not translatable to the complex human ADHD behaviour characterised by impulsiveness, inattention and motor activity.'"

Linking the impact on mice foetuses to similar impacts on human foetuses is of secondary importance. What this research claims to have demonstrated is confirmation of changes in the biology of a mammal resulting from exposure to cellphone radiation. If those results can be replicated and confirmed we all have cause for concern.

The good news - if you can call it such -  is that, unlike potential carcinogenic effects - which if they exist could be a time bomb latent in the DNA of the world's population - the effects on the foetus will already be manifest in the world's children, and just waiting to be uncovered.

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