Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

30 June 2017

Risks to Babies Exposed to Radiofrequency Radiation from Wireless Technologies

Do not use a cell phone near a baby's head!
Risks to babies exposed to radiofrequency radiation from wireless technologies

On 28 June 2017, we sent this message to the person responsible for the mid-wife team at Geneva’s University Hospital (HUG) and to the Swiss Federation of Mid-Wives. The information comes from articles published recently on the subject in French (media, health sites, consumer associations). For the English translation, we have added recommendations and resources.

Risks to babies exposed to radiofrequency radiation from wireless technologies

Dear Madam,

We have read with interest the article « Quand le smartphone fait de l’ombre au bébé » [“When the smartphone overshadows the baby” – about the use of smartphones in delivery rooms], published by the Tribune de Genève on 15 June 2017.

We encourage mid-wives to raise awareness of young parents of the risks of exposure of their babies to electromagnetic (EM) radiation emitted by wireless technologies (cell phones, tablets, baby monitors, Wi-Fi, connected toys, smart meters…) not only during the mother and newborn’s stay at the hospital but also afterwards at home. This radiation was classified in 2011 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans. The awareness-raising could take place at the maternity hospital during the stay of the mother and newborn and in the form of a brochure including risks during pregnancy and after the birth of the child. It could recommend precautionary measures to reduce exposure of babies and young children to EM radiation.

Information and recommendations :

1. Children are more vulnerable to electromagnetic pollution
The longer and more intense the exposure to EM radiation, the more harmful the effect is on the body.

Electromagnetic waves assault our babies every day. The BioInitiative Report emphasizes the particular sensitivity of babies to electromagnetic fields: due to their smaller heads, their brains absorb much more radiation than that of an adult. Electromagnetic waves are everywhere both inside and outside the home and present a real danger to babies who are exposed to it all the time.

Babies are particularly sensitive to EM waves

One cannot exactly measure the risk to babies but it is suspected that specific ailments such as sleep disturbances, headaches, hyperactivity, fatigue, stress, and mood changes result from exposure to EM radiation. A study undertaken by the University of Los Angeles (UCLA) and Aarhur (Denmark) of more than 13,000 children showed disturbing results. Women who used their cell phone during pregnancy were at greater risk of having a baby who showed behavioral problems after birth. This risk increased depending on the frequency of use of wireless devices and intensity of exposure to waves.

EM waves are real enemies to the health of babies. We must, more than ever, apply the precautionary principle and distance the baby from waves as far and as often as possible.

Ref :

2. Baby monitors

Baby monitors are often placed too close to the baby’s head. They function with radio waves, like cell phones and Wi-Fi. The interphone should be placed more than one meter from the baby’s bed. Battery-driven models should be used and the interphone branched to a grounded outlet. One should use an analog rather than a digital device. Wi-Fi models and devices with visual surveillance should be avoided. Especially, one should select a device equipped with Vox mode which is activated by the baby’s voice and avoids emitting radiation on a permanent basis. This will limit the risks.
Certain baby monitors emit high radiation, according to an article published in May 2017 by the Swiss consumer association, Bon à Savoir :

Five models produce pulsed waves

“Studies suggest baby monitors emitting excessive radiation could cause insomnia. Out of 10 babyphones tested, five emit pulsed waves: Avent SCD560 and SCD501 of Philips, the Motorola MBP11, Switel BCC57 and BY33 of Beurer. Moreover, these five models emit waves continuously, even while the baby is sleeping. It is possible to deactivate this option for the Avent SCD560 of Philips and the Switel BCC57, but this affects the quality of transmission.

Ref :

Baby monitors can also be subject to cyberattacks.

3. Connected toys

Today, more and more connected toys are being controlled by a tablet or smartphone on which an application is installed. Among this type of toy:

- “Smart” dolls that can converse with children

- Connected teddy bears whose role is to watch over babies. Their functions allow the child to fall asleep rapidly, determine why he is crying, measure his temperature and cardiac rhythm, and teach him some words.

« These toys should not be sold because they emit EM radiation (Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G) classified as « possibly carcinogenic » by the IARC. A French law voted on 12 July 2010 stipulated that one must not give an electronic device to children less than 6 years old because even if the waves are weak, chronic exposure is dangerous to young brains which are fragile and still developing.

« According to doctors studying electromagnetic hypersensitivity, when one transforms the Wi-Fi signal into sound, one obtains a sound like a jack-hammer, that is, an impulsion 10 times per second which is captured by the brain. The long-term and repeated effects of this sound act on the development of cells. They provoke sleep and memory disturbances, generate stress and according to some studies conducted recently in the United States, exposure to EM waves of pregnant women and infants could be causing the increasing numbers of children affected by autism.

« One must be informed about the risks of Wi-Fi waves. Several studies show their harm to the brain, especially in children less than 15 years old. Children should not play for long periods with wireless devices and toys and especially, not sleep with a Wi-Fi-connected device placed near the head."

These toys are also subject to cyber attacks.

Ref :

How to reduce exposure to electromagnetic radiation at home
[Note: These are from an article in the French press. We have added information to the recommendations.]

Ref :

1. Use a cell phone as little as possible and keep calls short. Favor texting.

2. Avoid keeping the cell phone in standby mode because every 10 minutes it sends a flash of waves to the nearest antenna day and night.
3. Don’t keep a switched-on cell phone on a nightstand or near the head: the waves emitted interfere with brain waves and can perturb sleep and provoke memory loss, headaches, dizziness…

4. Favor « speaker-mode » over hands-free kits. Attention, an earpiece reduces but does not eliminate exposure.

5. Do not always use a cell phone on the same side of the head. The Interphone study has shown risks linked to unilateral, long-term use

6. Do not move while calling, because even when walking, a cell phone emits more powerfully in order to find the nearest antenna.

7. Avoid calling in a car because the waves of a cell phone, reflected off the metal structure, are more concentrated in a small space.

8. Do not expose people near you or children to passive radiation: cell phones irradiate as far as 1.5 meters. This advice applies particularly to use in enclosed spaces: buses, trains…

9. Pregnant women should not carry or place a cell phone on their abdomen and should avoid use to the maximum extent possible. They should not use a laptop on the lap, especially when connected to Wi-Fi.

10. For all parents: do not give your child a cell phone at an early age because their brain absorbs more radiation than that of adults.

11. Favor fixed phones rather than wireless or DECT phones which emit radiofrequencies.

12. Switch on Wi-Fi only when it is needed. Better, favor a cabled/wired internet connection.

13. Avoid placing baby monitors near the baby’s head.

14. Avoid giving a tablet to children. Among other harmful effects, smartphones and tablets have a negative impact on the development of language of babies.

[15. Do not carry a cell phone in a shirt or pants’ pocket or tucked in a bra. Carry and use a cell phone at some distance from the body, as recommended in all user manuals.]

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends :

- Avoid digital media use (except video chatting) in children younger than 24 months.
- For children ages 2 to 5, limit screen use to one hour a day of high-quality programming. Watch with your child and help them understand what they are seeing.

The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends :

- Screen time for children under two is not recommended since there are no documented benefits.
- For children three to five years of age, limit screen time to less than one hour per day.

See also :

Baby-Safe Project

Environmental Health Trust:

- Children and wireless FAQ’s

- Autism, ADHD, and wireless electromagnetic fields

BioInitiative Report:

- Fetal and Neonatal Effects of EMF

by Meris Michaels

Note:  We are not experts but have done our best to provide information to protect the health of babies and small children from wireless radiation.  If you wish to add something, please do so in the comments box.  

PS - We corrected the translation of "babyphone" to "baby monitor".

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