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Regular Cellphone Use During Pregnancy Can Cause a 40% Increase in Behavioral Problems

December 24, 2010 | 55,712 views

pregnant woman using cellphoneResearchers have found evidence that when pregnant women use cell phones regularly, their children are more likely to have behavioral problems.

The scientists examined data from 28,000 7-year-old children and their mothers. Children whose mothers used cell phones while pregnant were 40 percent more likely to have behavioral problems. If the children themselves used cell phones, this rose to a 50 percent likelihood.

Reuters reports:

"[The researchers] tried to account for other possible causes, such as whether women who used cell phones were different from women who did not, especially during the time of their pregnancies when cellphone use was less common than it is now."

A separate study also found that a mom's behaviors during pregnancy can greatly influence the future health of her child, Specifically, what you eat during pregnancy affects your child's food preferences, because it helps to form their sense of smell, according to the new study.

It turns out that a pregnant mother's diet shapes her child's brain development, sensitizing her fetus to those particular smells and flavors.

According to the Hindustan Times:

"This makes the mother's diet more attractive to the child when they are older ... Researchers studying mice found that the pups' sense of smell was changed by what their mothers ate, teaching them to like the flavors in her diet.

At the same time, they found significant changes in the structure of the brain's olfactory glomeruli, which processes smells, because odors in the amniotic fluid affect how this system develops."


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Most moms-to-be have an intuitive sense that the choices they make during pregnancy can impact their developing baby, and there is a great deal of research showing this connection as well.

Your diet, stress levels -- even the choice of whether or not to use a cell phone -- all may influence your newborn's health.

Why Pregnant Women Should Avoid Cell Phones

In 2008, researchers analyzed data from nearly 13,000 children and found that exposure to cell phones while in the womb, and also as children, was linked to more behavioral difficulties.

Pregnant women using 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 -- and the risk became even greater if the children also used the phones themselves before age 7.

The 2008 study revealed that 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

This year the researchers looked at a larger group of children -- nearly 29,000 -- and also considered additional variables that could be swaying the results, and the association was found once again.

In the latest study, children whose mothers used cell phones while pregnant were 40 percent more likely to have behavioral problems, and this rose to 50 percent when the children also used cell phones themselves. The researchers even accounted for family history of behavioral problems, inattention of the mother, breastfeeding and time spent with the child -- and the association remained.

Cell Phone Use is Not Worth the Risk During Pregnancy

It will be a long time before these findings are thoroughly explored or publicized, but in the meantime you're better off playing it safe than sorry.

There is some speculation that cell phone use may cause women to secrete excess amounts of melatonin, which influences metabolism of the mother and also potentially the developing fetus' brain.

Animal studies have also shown that electromagnetic fields (EMF) in the cell phone frequency range can affect liver enzymes, glands, muscles, hormone balance, and heart and bone marrow. The cellular stresses caused by EMF may actually alter the DNA structure of both you and your child.

Autonomic nervous system expert Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt has noted this radiation can easily flip certain genes in the mitochondria. If this gene sequence is altered in a pregnant woman, she can pass her damaged mitochondria on to her child. The child can then develop a mitochondrial disorder, which can include muscular atrophy and severe developmental problems.

The Importance of a Healthy Diet During Pregnancy

Obviously it's important to eat healthy while pregnant to make sure you're giving your developing fetus enough vitamins, minerals, and other macro- and micronutrients. But your diet impacts much more than that -- including your baby's future food preferences.

A new study from University of Colorado researchers found that a mother's diet sensitizes her fetus to the smells and flavors of foods, and even alters development of brain regions that process smells.

If you eat a diet rich in healthy foods, there's a good chance your baby will prefer healthful foods too. In fact, it appears that eating healthy during pregnancy can "pre-program" your baby's tastes for a healthful diet. But if you eat a high-sugar, highly processed food diet, your child may be predisposed to preferring that type of diet, too.

The relatively new field of science called epigenetics helps explain how and why this happens.

Epigenetics is the study of how environmental factors like diet, stress and maternal nutrition can change gene function without altering the DNA sequence in any way. The changes occur when a certain factor, such as your diet, changes the expression of a certain gene or set of genes, essentially turning them on or off.

Researchers have found, for instance, that rat fetuses which received poor nutrition while in the womb experienced epigenetic changes that primed them for a nutrition-poor environment once they were born, thereby increasing their risk of health problems ranging from diabetes and heart disease to obesity.

Previous research has shown that these changes can last for two generations or more, meaning that even what your grandmother ate during pregnancy can have an impact on your health now.

So you'll want to eat a well-balanced diet, with plenty of fresh produce and healthy meats. One of the easiest ways to do this is by eating right for your nutritional type and also following my comprehensive nutrition plan.

How to "Prime" Your Baby for Optimal Health

There are numerous ways you can help "prime" your future child's genes for health, rather than disease. Here's a list of top strategies you should focus on integrating into your lifestyle if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant:

  • Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels

    If you or someone you know is pregnant, PLEASE make sure that you get your vitamin D levels (25 hydroxy D) regularly checked during your pregnancy.

    We know today that your levels need to be above 50 ng/ml to protect you and your baby from some of the most serious complications of pregnancy such as premature delivery and preeclampsia -- but most obstetricians will NOT automatically check your levels for you.

    Vitamin D is also essential for helping your baby’s brain develop properly, including reducing the risk of autism.

    Please do not assume that your levels have been tested with the routine pregnancy blood work you receive. You will need to specifically ask to have your vitamin D level tested. It is likely that it will be considered negligence or malpractice to not check pregnant women’s vitamin D levels in the near future, but for now it is not standard practice.

    Ideally you should optimize your vitamin D levels by getting proper sun exposure or using a safe tanning bed, but you can also use a vitamin D3 supplement as long as you monitor your levels.

    Your vitamin D status is dependent on several factors, such as the color of your skin, your location, and how much sunshine you're exposed to on a regular basis. The only accurate way to determine your optimal dose is to get your blood tested, and then be aware that the reference ranges from the lab may say your levels are normal when in fact they are still too low.

    Again, you'll want to maintain a vitamin D level of at least 50 ng/ml and perhaps as high as 80-90 ng/ml year-round.

    For in-depth information about safe sun exposure, dosing and other recommendations to safely and effectively optimize your vitamin D levels, please watch my free one-hour lecture on vitamin D.

  • Supplement with a High-Quality Animal-Based Omega-3 Fat, such as Krill Oil

    Omega-3 fats are absolutely vital for the complete development of your baby’s brain, and they can help prevent premature delivery.

    Omega-3 fat and its derivative, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), is so essential to a child's development that if a mother and infant are deficient in it, the child's nervous system and immune system may never fully develop, and it can cause a lifetime of unexplained emotional, learning, and immune system disorders.

    I recommend krill oil as your best source of omega-3 fat because it is in a highly absorbable, bioavailable form and does not go rancid the way most fish oil does. It is also a pure oil that will not expose you to the mercury and other pollutants found in most fish.

  • Take a High-Quality Probiotic

    If you are not eating a lot of naturally fermented foods, such as kefir or natto, taking a probiotic supplement is important. Doing so during pregnancy and breastfeeding may promote your immune system and reduce your risk of premature labor, along with help protect your baby from allergies and eczema.

    Probiotic supplements during pregnancy can also help women lose weight after their child’s birth.

  • Do Not Use a Cell Phone

    As discussed earlier, a developing fetus may be particularly at risk from exposure to cell phone radiation, so resist the urge to use a cell phone while pregnant. Barring a life-threatening emergency, children should not use a cell phone, or a wireless device of any type, either. Children are far more vulnerable to cell phone radiation than adults because of their thinner skull bones and other factors.

  • Do Not Get “Silver” Amalgam Fillings Removed While Pregnant

    Canada advised dentists to stop placing amalgam in children and pregnant women in 1996, but in the United States, they're still regarded as the "gold standard" of dental care.

    The mercury in amalgam fillings is a reproductive toxin and a neurotoxin that can kill unborn children and cause permanent neurological harm to a child’s developing brain.

    For those of you who have mercury fillings, I recommend that you have them removed – but do NOT do so while pregnant. When you have these fillings removed you can be exposed to significant amounts of mercury vapors, especially if the dentist doesn’t know what he or she is doing, and this could be detrimental for your baby.

    So wait until AFTER you give birth to have any mercury fillings removed.

    In the event you need a filling while pregnant, do NOT get a silver amalgam filling. Instead, see a biological dentist who can recommend a truly inert material that will not harm your health or that of your developing baby.

  • Exercise

    Exercising during pregnancy is helpful both for you and your baby. Previous studies have shown that, in general, women who exercise throughout their pregnancies have larger placentas than their more sedentary peers.

    The volume of your placenta is a general marker of its ability to transport oxygen and nutrients to your fetus, so it stands to reason that having a large, healthy placenta will lead to a healthier baby.

    Exercise can also help with back pain, leg cramps and depression, while reducing your risk of gallstones and preterm birth.

    So unless you have some form of medical condition that is putting your pregnancy at risk, regular exercise is a great idea for both mom and baby.

If you want even MORE tips on how to have a healthy pregnancy and give your baby the best possible start to life, read my No-Nonsense Guide to a Naturally Healthy Pregnancy and Baby.

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