|Don't use a cell phone when pregnant or at least|
severely limit its use and certainly, do not use a
laptop on your lap !
by Raliat Ahmed-Yusuf, www.medindia.net, 12 January 2013
It is said that radiation in small dose is harmless, but no amount is actually safe for the body. Even though it is used to treat some kind of ailments, such as cancer, the side effects far outweigh its benefits. In most instances, exposure to radiation is harmful, because it plays a role in later health. RALIAT AHMED-YUSUF writes that it can cause developmental problem in fetuses, fertility and bodily functioning.
The past few years have seen some raging controversies on the usage of mobile phones. More than 80 per cent of the world population own cell phones and the number keeps increasing. There are quite a number of evidences from scientists about the harm of electro-magnetic radiation from cell phones.
Even though more evidence will be required to support this claim, preliminary scientific report gives us reason to alert the teeming population of mobile phone users on the risk associated with these devices, especially pregnant women.
Cell phone radiation exposure during pregnancy impacts fetal brain development and may cause hyperactivity, researchers say.
This is a recent finding by Dr. Hugh Taylor, a medical professor and chief of Yale’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, who co-authored a recent study to probe the impact of cell phone exposure on pregnancies.
According to Taylor, “We had pregnant mice in cages and we just simply put a cell phone on top of the cage. In half the mice, the cell phone was active and in half of the ... cages, the cell phone was turned off so it wasn’t transmitting a signal at all.”
He said the researchers allowed the mice to give birth and waited until offspring were young adults before behaviours were tested.
“The mice exposed to cell phones were more active,” Taylor said. “Their memory was slightly decreased ... these mice were basically bouncing off the walls and didn’t have a care in the world.”
Taylor says the study shows there is a “biological basis” to suggest cell phone exposure can impact pregnancies. He says he is encouraging patients to be cautious with devices and recommends pregnant women hold phones away from the body.
Dr. Osa King , a physician, explains that “Cell phones are associated with magnetic radiations and the impact of radiation on living tissue is complicated by the type of radiation and the variety of tissues. Cell phones contain ionizing radiations.”
According to him, these radiations could be emitted on exposure of parts of the phone that contain them. Exposure or contact of a living tissue with these radiations could cause cell damage and the amount of damage in the cell is related to the dose of radiation received, he said.
King noted that the damage takes place in only a fraction of a second, but the changes and manifestation may take years to develop.
“In trying to understand how living tissues are affected, it is important to know that the functions of a living tissue are carried out by molecules that are combinations of different types of atoms united by chemical bonds. The proper functioning of these molecules depends upon their composition and structure (shape). Ionizing radiation could cause the alteration in the chemical bonds leading to the change in composition and structure of the molecules, also causing damage to cell DNA. The DNA is the most crucial of all the molecules in the body,” he explained further.
Since DNA is the genetic material that makes up a living tissue, what ionizing radiation does is that it causes formation of electrical charges on DNA molecules - it knocks off electrons of molecules. This is called ionization. When DNA molecule becomes ionized, it undergoes chemical changes leading to mutation in the cell’s DNA, King emphasized.
The physician pointed out that there is no sustained fact yet to link hyperactivity in babies with cell phone radiations, but the damage and mutation of the genetic material could lead to excessive proliferation and division of cells, as well as replication, which is how cancer develops.
Another effect of radiation on pregnant women when exposed is that the radiation it could kill the cells of the baby, such that there could be severe developmental and chromosomal abnormalities, he said.
In a situation such as this, two things can happen. One, the baby could be spontaneously aborted, and two, there could be organ damage and function, especially during the eight weeks of embryonic life in which there is organ formation and function. When this happens, there is delayed growth and development, and the baby has to produce many more cells to reach a particular level of development and growth, he concluded.
Cell phone manufacturers, including Blackberry and Apple, are saying that consumers should keep devices away from the body due to potential safety risk, but these warnings often go unnoticed because they are featured in device manuals.
Cell Phone Safety Facts
• Keep the handset if possible at least two to seven inches away from your head or use loudspeaker mode. It decreases the transmission of electro-magnetic radiation to the brain significantly.
• Do not keep the cell phone close to your head when sleeping. Switch it off in the night or keep it six feet away from your head.
• If in the pocket, keep the keypad towards you, so that antenna faces away from you.
• Don’t use cell phone if pregnant. The developing organs of the fetus or child are the most sensitive to any possible effects of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) exposure.
• Avoid cell phone usage in “metal containers” like vehicles, elevators, airplanes, trains and any other type of metal container, as it increases the EMR.
• Avoid using the wired headsets. If you do use headsets, use an air tube headset with ferrite beads.
• Bluetooth is better as it emits 1/100th the EMR of a normal cell phone. With regular headsets, you get three times more EMR than if you hold the cell phone against your ear.
• Cell phones are a big NO for children under 15 years, as currently brain tumors are the second leading cause of death in children.
• Keep cell phones well away from newborns. EMR travel through children’s brains much more easily due to thinner skulls and hence increases the risk of cancer.
• Avoid using cell phones in your pant pocket – as radiation can affect your fertility. Avoid it in breast pocket if you have a pacemaker.
• When buying a cell phone, look for the one with a low SAR, or Specific Absorption Rate. The lower the SAR number, the better. For example, the popular Motorola Razr V3x has a SAR of 0.14, which is amongst the lowest seen recently.