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EMF Study
(Database last updated on Jan 14, 2020)

ID Number 2187
Study Type Epidemiology
Model Mobile phone use by pregnant mothers and correlation with neurologic and behavioral effects in their offspring.

Mothers (n = 587) giving birth in Sabadell Spain between 2004 and 2006 were questioned regarding mobile phone use during the 32nd week of the pregnancy. The authors report higher mental and lower psychomotor development in the children (n = 530)of heavy mobile phone users assessed at 14 months of age (using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. However, they attribute these observations to possible confounding in the analysis. The study was performed in an attempt to validate previously reported data from Divan, Kheifets, Olsen et al (Epidemiology 2008, 19:523 - 529), and the authors conclude the findings do not support a link between maternal mobile phone use during pregnancy and adverse effects on early neurodevelopment of offspring. AUTHINTRODUCTION: Previous studies have reported associations between prenatal cell phone use and child behavioral problems, but findings have been inconsistent and based on retrospective assessment of cell phone use. This study aimed to assess this association in a multi-national analysis, using data from three cohorts with prospective data on prenatal cell phone use, together with previously published data from two cohorts with retrospectively collected cell phone use data. METHODS: We used individual participant data from 83,884 mother-child pairs in the five cohorts from Denmark (1996-2002), Korea (2006-2011), the Netherlands (2003-2004), Norway (2004-2008), and Spain (2003-2008). We categorized cell phone use into none, low, medium, and high, based on frequency of calls during pregnancy reported by the mothers. Child behavioral problems (reported by mothers using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire or Child Behavior Checklist) were classified in the borderline/clinical and clinical ranges using validated cut-offs in children aged 5-7years. Cohort specific risk estimates were meta-analyzed. RESULTS: Overall, 38.8% of mothers, mostly from the Danish cohort, reported no cell phone use during pregnancy and these mothers were less likely to have a child with overall behavioral, hyperactivity/inattention or emotional problems. Evidence for a trend of increasing risk of child behavioral problems through the maternal cell phone use categories was observed for hyperactivity/inattention problems (OR for problems in the clinical range: 1.11, 95%CI 1.01, 1.22; 1.28, 95%CI 1.12, 1.48, among children of medium and high users, respectively). This association was fairly consistent across cohorts and between cohorts with retrospectively and prospectively collected cell phone use data. CONCLUSIONS: Maternal cell phone use during pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk for behavioral problems, particularly hyperactivity/inattention problems, in the offspring. The interpretation of these results is unclear as uncontrolled confounding may influence both maternal cell phone use and child behavioral problems. ORS' ABSTRACT: Birks et al. 2017 (IEEE #6748):

Findings No Effects
Status Completed With Publication
Principal Investigator Centre Res Environ Epidemiol (CREAL), Barcelona, S
Funding Agency Nat'l Res Prog, Spain
Country SPAIN
  • Vrijheid, M et al. Epidemiology, (2010) 21:259-262
  • Birks, L et al. Environ Int., (2017) 104:122-131
  • Tsma, E et al. Am. J. Epidemiol., (2019) 88:1270-1280
  • Comments