Women who use mobile phones when pregnant are more likely to give birth to children with behavioral problems, according to a study of more than 13,000 children.
Pregnant women using the handsets just two or three times a day was enough to raise the risk of their babies developing hyperactivity and difficulties with conduct, emotions and relationships by the time they reached school age.
The likelihood is even greater if the children themselves used the phones before the age of 7.
The Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection says that use of the phones by both pregnant women and children should be “limited”. It concludes that children who talk on the handsets are likely to suffer from “disruption of memory, decline of attention, diminishing learning and cognitive abilities, increased irritability” in the short term, and that longer-term hazards include “depressive syndrome” and “degeneration of the nervous structures of the brain”.
Specifically, mothers who used mobile phones were 54 percent more likely to have children with behavioral problems. When the children also later used the phones themselves, they were:
* 80 percent more likely to suffer from difficulties with behavior
* 25 percent more at risk from emotional problems
* 34 percent more likely to suffer from difficulties relating to their peers
* 35 percent more likely to be hyperactive
* 49 percent more prone to problems with conduct
The results of the study took the top scientists who conducted it by surprise. The research will carry particular weight because one of its authors, UCLA’s Professor Leeka Kheifets, had previously been skeptical that mobile phones could pose a risk to health.