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Pregnancy & Cell Phone Use: Is There Cause for Concern?

November 08, 2017 — Researchers have only recently begun to study the possible effects of radio waves and electromagnetic frequency from cell phones on fetuses. Kim Highfield, CEO of SportPort™ and activist for the health and safety of cell phone use, was asked to contribute her thoughts on the recent news and media suggesting that women have nothing to worry about when it comes to using their cell phone while pregnant.

During your pregnancy, your baby isn’t quite attached to your hip just yet (that will start very, very soon), but something else may be — your cell phone. You use it to text, talk, get directions to birth classes, make doctor’s appointments, jot down must-haves for your hospital bag, track mom & baby changes, research baby products and more. But, does all of this cell phone usage affect your growing baby?

Researchers have only recently begun to study the possible effects of radio waves from cell phones on fetuses, and for the most part, the work has been largely inconclusive. However, a recent study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Technology has the media stating that mothers don’t have anything to worry about. But is this really the case? To some, it sounds too good to be true.

RF/EMF: Why the Worrying Over Wireless?

Today, cell phones are used for more than just to stay in touch with family and friends. In this technology-driven world, cell phones become a daily part of our lives as we use them for research, to do our work, and keep track of what is happening in our lives and communities. Add in tablets, laptops, and other portable, wireless and bluetooth devices that are used to communicate with one another, and your body is bombarded with electromagnetic radio waves (RF/EMF) day in and day out while helping to make these devices work – with a fraction of which actually passes into your body. These radio waves, in high enough quantities, may cause heat increases, alter the arrangement of molecules that are found in living cells and damage DNA. But whether exposure to EMF has any long-term effects on a mother’s or child’s health has yet to be determined.

Children’s Health: What Does the Research Say?

Since the energy passing through cell phones seems to be somewhere between the two extremes of granite and X-rays, some scientists have questioned whether EMF waves could affect a growing baby whose fast-replicating cells are especially vulnerable to outside disturbances. Until recently, the few studies conducted in this area hadn’t found anything of concern in terms of everyday cell phone use during pregnancy.

In September 2017, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health released findings from an observational questionnaire study, referred to as “MoBa”, in which researchers looked at the cell phone use of pregnant mothers and followed up by checking self-reported questionnaires from the mothers to determine the neurodevelopment, language and motor skill development, of their children at ages 3 and 5. The questionnaire study findings claim that mothers-to-be are “good to go” and have no reason to worry about harming their unborn children by using cell phones.

Researchers stated, “Even though this is an observational study, our findings do not support the hypothesis of adverse effects on child’s language, communication and motor skills due to the use of mobile phone during pregnancy.” To clarify, the study was an observational, questionnaire only, external look at what might be happening to the brain or central nervous system of children, and not an internal, medical study, testing or analysis of cell growth in the brain or body or possible existence of cell mutations that might be associated with excessive EMF or cell phone use and possible future cancer-related issues or other health complexities.

In other words, the study was too vague and not focused enough on science/medicine to be able to determine, definitively, that pregnant moms are “good to go” when it comes to using cell phones. The study, however beneficial, is only one tiny look into the effects that cell phone use might or might not have on a child. There is still a lot in question, along with uncertainty, surrounding EMF, cell phone use and pregnancy. A lot more studying and research is believed to be necessary before telling mothers that using their cell phones won’t hurt their babies.

Cell Phone Safety: What Can You Do?

Most healthcare providers are in agreement that the limited amount of research done on cell phone use during pregnancy has not yielded any definite conclusions one way or another. Therefore, they simply cannot recommend either way that mothers-to-be make any significant lifestyle changes when it comes to browsing the web, texting, and talking on cell phones, and many providers — and pregnant women — just assume all is well. According to the World Health Organization, “To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.” But just because one or two studies haven’t found a link yet doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist, right?

Expectant mothers may wish to take extra precautions to ease their worries. After all, we can’t say for sure whether EMF from phones is truly harmful… yet. Some suggestions for limiting exposure include keeping your cell phone at a distance away from you when it’s not in use or using a landline, if possible, to make phone calls. Also, rather than carrying your cell phone in a pocket that’s close to your growing belly or soft tissue, keep it on the coffee table while you move around the house and turn it off or put it on a nightstand at night rather than under your pillow.

Pregnant women may also want to rethink carrying their cell phones in their breast pockets or bras during outings or workouts.

One unique active & sportswear company, SportPort™, is the first to implement the use of an extra safety pocket to help protect against potentially dangerous EMF waves to allow the wearer to carry their cell phone close to the body and soft tissue of the breast area. Kim Highfield, CEO of SportPort, mom, fitness and safety advocate tells us, “I don’t want to worry about when or where I use my cell phone. I purposely created SportPort for myself and other women who might have any concerns about carrying their phones close to their bodies or, in this case, close to their baby’s bodies during daily activities or workouts. That’s what inspired me to create the extra safety pocket in our sportswear line that includes an EMF barrier to protect against potentially dangerous radiofrequency waves.” She continued to tell us, “We are not doctors. We are not scientists. Studies are still inconclusive about whether EMF from phones is truly harmful. But we are firm believers in the old adage, ‘It’s better to be safe than sorry,’ and we sure don’t want to find out years down the road that we were inadvertently hurting our children.”

The bottom line is that the potential risks of cell phone radiation on pregnancy are still unknown, and until we know for sure, many expectant mothers are taking precautions to protect themselves and their unborn babies. There aren’t any specific guidelines on cell phone use during pregnancy from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, but that’s because the providers haven’t seen any studies or evidence yet that makes them worry about patients using cell phones. More research and studies need to be conducted that look at the entire picture to determine possible risks — not just one or two aspects of mobile use during pregnancy.

After all, can expectant mothers really afford to take that chance?

Further Reading: See the SportPort Knowledge Base for more information on cell phones, EMF, health and safety related issues.

Study & Science References:

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