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Cell Phones, Radiation & Your Child’s Health

Cell Phones, Radiation & Your Child’s Health

January 15, 2013

By Guest blogger, Devra Davis, PhD, President and Founder, Environmental Health Trust, and author of Disconnect: The Truth about Cell Phone Radiation, Plume, 2011

Editor’s Note: Back by popular demand, Healthy Child Healthy World is re-featuring the most viewed blogs of 2012.

Children are growing up in a sea of radio-frequency radiation that has never existed in human history. In America today, about twenty million children under the age of fourteen have cellphones. Increasingly, scientists and policy makers in tech-savvy nations like Israel and Finland are concerned that the ways these devices are used imperil the brain. The iPhone plastic baby rattle case protects the phone’s glass screen from cracking when chomped on by teething babies, but does not protect the infant’s young brain from the phone’s pulsed digital microwave radiation.

This proliferation of wireless gadgets overlooks a critical health issue for pregnant women, men who wish to father healthy children, and children themselves: non-ionizing or microwave radiation damages the brain and sperm of experimental animals. A cellphone is a two-way microwave radio with intermittent and destabilizing pulses, unlike microwave ovens that steadily operate at the same frequencies. The weak and erratic microwave radiation from cellphones and tablets cannot directly break the bonds that hold molecules together, but does disrupt DNA, weakens the brain’s protective barrier, and releases highly reactive and damaging free radicals. A five-year-old’s brain, healthy or otherwise, is encased in a thinner skull and contains more fluid than an adult brain. The bone marrow of a child’s head absorbs 10 times more radiation than an adult, while those of infants and toddlers will absorb even more.

Few parents appreciate that infant apps like One Fish Two Fish, Peekaboo Farm, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star may do much more than amuse and distract babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that children need more real face time than screen time, more laps than apps. The capacity to learn how to tell the difference between mommy and me and to learn to think about the other requires holding, touching, smelling, seeing, and hearing real live people. This cannot be supplanted by intoxicating technological bells and whistles.

Every major well-designed study ever conducted has found that those who use cellphones regularly for half an hour a day or more for a decade have a doubled risk of brain cancer, and those who began using cellphones as teenagers have four to five times more disease in less than 10 years. Exposure to radiation from cellphones may also play a role for a growing spate of serious problems, including attention and hearing deficits, autism, behavioral changes, insomnia, ringing of the ears or tinnitus, Parkinsons, Alzheimer’s, and a broad array of disturbances to the nervous system.

Most disconcerting are findings from the highly respected Prof. Nesrin Seyhan, the NATO-supported founding chairman of the Biophysics Department at Gazi University in Ankara, Turkey, whose studies repeatedly show that prenatally exposed rats and rabbits have fewer brain cells. His studies also show those that survive sustain more damage to their brain, liver, reproductive system, and eyes. Other research carried out by the dozen laboratory collaborative of the European Union Reflex project found that exposures to cellphone radiation directly impaired human brain cells. Despite highly publicized charges of fraud against that work, the Reflex project has been exonerated and others have since independently confirmed their findings.

Experimental work completed by teams working with two distinguished experts in male reproductive health, Professor Ashok Agarwal of the Cleveland Clinic and Sir Robert John Aitken of Australia’s Newcastle University, have shown that cellphone radiation-exposed human sperm die three times faster, swim significantly more poorly, become more deformed, and develop significantly more damage to their DNA. With one in every five couples having problems reproducing when they chose to do so, the wisdom of the fine print warnings that come with all smartphones to not keep phones in the pocket and avoid contact with the pregnant abdomen or those of teenagers should become standard medical advice.

There is no known safe dose standard of cellphone radiation for pregnant women, their developing babies, men who wish to become fathers, or for young children. All safety warnings for cellphones (e.g., keep 2.54 inches from the abdomen) are modeled on a very large fellow with a big head who talks less than half an hour a day. The average toddler’s head weighs about half as much as the one for whom standards have been set.

Cellphones are just one source for microwave radiation exposure. iPads and other wireless tablet systems emit radiation as well, although the former comes with automatic proximity sensors that reduce radiation whenever the device comes close to the body. The safety material that comes with an iPad recommends users hold it eight inches from an adult body—a distance far greater than most toddlers’ arms. Yet nowadays even babies and toddlers are learning to read from wired devices and falling asleep to white noise played from phones placed under their pillows and connected to wireless routers.

What can you do to protect yourself from radiation emitted from high tech gadgets?

When it comes to using electronic devices, those hidden safety warnings have it right, so remember: distance is your friend.
•    Don’t hold a cellphone directly up to your head. Use a headset or speakerphone to talk on the phone.
•    Pregnant women should keep cellphones away from their abdomen and men who wish to become fathers should never keep phones on in their pocket.
•    Don’t allow children to play with or use your cellphone. Older children should use a headset when talking on a cellphone.
•    Turn off your wireless router at night to minimize exposure to radiation.
•    Eat green vegetables and get a good night’s sleep in a dark room to enhance natural repair of DNA that may have been damaged by radiation.

Click here for more information, including a Doctors’ Pamphlet about the need to Practice Safe Phone, written by Charlie Teo, one of the world’s top neurosurgeons, and other experts in the field.

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of Healthy Child Healthy World.

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