Researchers in Norway have found that cell phone use during pregnancy is unlikely to harm the unborn child. The team found no association between cell phone use and low communication skills.
“The concern for harm to the fetus caused by radio frequency electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by mobile phones, is mainly driven by reports from experimental animal studies with inconsistent results,” said study lead author Eleni Papadopoulou of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
“Even though this is an observational study, our findings do not support the hypothesis of adverse effects on child’s language, communication and motor skills due to the use of mobile phone during pregnancy,” she said.
The researchers followed more than 45,000 Norwegian women during their pregnancy and for five years after delivery. The women filled out surveys about cellphone use, and their kids underwent brain development evaluations at ages three and five.
When the researchers compared moms who used a cellphone to those who did not, their kids had a 27% reduced risk of lower sentence complexity and a 14% lower risk of incomplete grammar. The children also had a 31% reduced risk of having moderate language delay and 18% lower risk of low motor skills.
“We think this protective effect is more likely to be explained by factors not measured in this study having an impact on the mobile phone use and child’s neurodevelopment, rather than the maternal mobile phone use in itself,” senior author Dr. Jan Alexander said.
While the researchers did not state so explicitly, they hinted that the children of cell phone users may have better communication skills because their mothers have a more extroverted personality. The amount of talk a child hears can promote their vocabulary and language skills, so having a more extroverted mother (who would be on her phone more) means the kids may simply be hearing more talking.
The team adjusted its data for factors that could influence the findings, including income, education, maternal personality and other psychological factors.