Pregnancy, even when routine, comes with some risk. Expectant parents will, of course, have some concern over health factors, nutrition and labor and delivery, but for most moms, it goes well. There has also been concern about the use of cellular phones.
Studies pointing to everything from psychosis to eyestrain to cancer are often inconclusive or poorly conducted, but they can still cause anxiety for users. While most people are comfortable with cell phone use, given how many people have them, there are some long-term studies that were begun years ago and are continuing to produce follow up data.
The most recent research includes data from a study conducted by scientists at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. In their project, 45,000 mothers were asked about their use of mobile phones. The survey included details about their use of cell phones before they became pregnant, as well as during pregnancy and post-partum. When the children of these mothers were born, they underwent neurodevelopmental testing at three and five years of age. Their study is published in the journal BMC Public Health.
The results should put to rest any fears expectant parents might have about cell phone use. Jan Alexander, the senior author on the paper describing the research, stated, "Our investigation revealed for the first time that maternal mobile phone use might actually have a positive impact. More specifically, mobile phone use in pregnancy was associated with lower risk of the child having low language and motor skills at three years of age."
While the news that there is no documented risk to unborn children when a mom uses a cell phone is good, the benefits of a lower risk of language and motor skill delays were a welcome surprise. The results of the evaluations the children underwent showed that those born to mothers who used a mobile phone had a 27% lower risk of lower sentence complexity in language, a 14% lower risk of poor grammar and a whopping 31% lowe risk of developing a language delay. These factors were found at age 3, and the risk was evaluated in comparison to the children of mothers who did not use mobile phones. Motor skills were impacted as well, with the three-year-olds of cell phone users showing an 18% lower risk of decreased motor skills.
The team stressed however that it should not be inferred that the cell phone use of the mothers involved in the study was the reason for the lower risk percentages found. The study adjusted for factors like socioeconomic status, age, and personality, but the results could also be due to other factors that the study did not take into account, which could include enrichment activities like preschool or youth sports. The main take away from the research should be the fact there was no evidence of a negative impact of cell phone use.
Alexander summarized the work in a press release, stating, "Our large study provides evidence that pregnant women's use of cell phone is not associated with risk of harming neurodevelopment of the fetus. The beneficial effects we report should be interpreted with caution due to the limitations common in observational studies, but our findings should at least alleviate any concern mothers have about using their mobile phone while pregnant."
Check out the included video for more information on the research.