Study links cellphones to child misbehavior

Mon Dec 6, 2010 7:31pm EST
 
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By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Researchers studying the health effects of cellphones say they have found evidence that when pregnant women use them regularly, their children are more likely to have behavioral problems.

The study, sure to renew controversy over the safety of mobile telephones, does not demonstrate that cellphone use causes the behavioral problems and does not suggest a possible way that they could.

But the researchers say their findings are worth checking out.

"It is hard to understand how such low exposures could be influential," Dr. Leeka Kheifets, an epidemiologist at the University of California Los Angeles who led the study, said in a telephone interview.

"It is just something that needs to be pursued."

Kheifets and her team looked at data from 28,000 7-year-olds and their mothers who took part in a large Danish study that has been tracking 100,000 women who were pregnant between 1996 and 2002.

The mothers of about 3 percent of the children said they had borderline behavioral problems, and 3 percent showed abnormal behavior, such as obedience or emotional issues.

The children whose mothers used cellphones while pregnant and who also used the phones themselves were 50 percent more likely to have behavioral problems, the researchers reported in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.   Continued...