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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cell Phones and Larry King

I viewed Larry King's show on cell phones yesterday and was appalled at the lack of research information spouted by his guests.

I applaud Devra Davis for her previous stand on how poorly we treat cancer and her comments on Larry King last evening during his show, again addressing the cell phone issue.

I don't applaud Larry King because his selection of guests provided little factual information on the known risks, and even embarrassed them selves, especially Ted Schwartz MD, with their ignorance of the science, research and understanding of the issues.

I do have to give one kudo to Sanjay Gupta on the graphic he used to show the penetration of the radio frequency into a child's brain. Little else he said was of value.

I have been researching the research on cell phones and EMF for more than a decade. I know that digital phones are considered as or more dangerous as the old analog style. The danger is from the constant pulsing of EMF from the phone unless you remove the battery.

I know much more but that you can find by searching the articles on the issue on this blog or reading more here.

And Larry, have Dr. Henry Lai on your program next time, maybe he can educate Ted and Sanjay.

Prenatal cell phone exposure tied to behavior
By Anne Harding
Tue Jul 29, 2008

Children whose mothers used cell phones frequently during pregnancy and who are themselves cell phone users are more likely to have behavior problems, new research shows.

The finding "certainly shouldn't be over interpreted, but nevertheless points in a direction where further research is needed," Dr. Leeka Kheifets of the UCLA School of Public Health, who helped conduct the study, told Reuters Health. "It's a wonderful technology and people are certainly going to be using it more and more," she added. "We need to be looking into what are the potential health effects and what are ways to reduce risks should there be any."

Kheifets and her team looked at a group of 13,159 children whose mothers had been recruited to participate in the Danish National Birth Cohort study early in their pregnancies. When the children reached age 7, mothers were asked to complete a questionnaire about their children's behavior and health, as well as the mother's own cell phone use in pregnancy and the child's use of cell phones.

After the researchers adjusted for factors that could influence the results, such as a mother's psychiatric problems and socioeconomic factors, children with both prenatal and postnatal cell phone exposure were 80 percent more likely to have abnormal or borderline scores on tests evaluating emotional problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity, or problems with peers.

Risks were higher for children exposed prenatally only, compared with those exposed only postnatally, but were lower than for children exposed at both time points.

Kheifets and her colleagues note that a fetus's exposure to radiofrequency fields by a mother's cell phone use is likely very small. However, they add, research has shown that children using cell phones are exposed to more radiofrequency energy than adults, because their ears and brains are smaller.

Because cell phone use was so infrequent among children in the study - 30 percent of kids were using a cell phone, but just 1 percent used a cell phone for more than an hour a week - radiofrequency exposure seems unlikely to have caused any behavior problems, they say.

"Another possible explanation for the observed association might be the lack of attention given to a child by mothers who are frequent users of cell phones," the researchers suggest. They note that mothers who used cell phones frequently were of lower socio-occupational status, more likely to have mental health and psychiatric problems, and more likely to have smoked while they were pregnant.

No matter what the factors behind the association are - if there indeed is a real relationship between cell phone use and behavior problems--one simple way to reduce exposure to cell phones would be to use hands-free technology, Kheifets said in an interview.

Editorialists writing in the journal raise the question of whether the publication of these findings may scare people for no reason.

Kheifets and her team believe that while their findings are preliminary, they should be reported. "We felt that the public is quite capable of dealing with proper information," the researcher said. "One shouldn't really try to be paternalistic about it."

SOURCE: Epidemiology, July 2008.
Copyright © 2008 Reuters Limited.

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