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Children's Cell Phone Use May Increase Their Risk of ADHD
A new study finds that children who use cell phones who are exposed to lead are at greater risk of developing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder than lead-exposed children who do not use cell phones much or at all.
Although we may be over-diagnosing ADHD and over-medicating children for this disorder, the 53 percent increase in ADHD diagnoses during the past decade may be attributable in part to increased exposure to environmental toxins in conjunction with exposure to microwave radiation from cell phones.
A research study published last week in the peer-reviewed journal, Public Library of Science (PLOS One), found that children exposed to lead who made more voice calls on their cell phone were at significantly greater risk of developing ADHD symptoms. Moreover, a significant dose-response relationship was observed between the number and duration of voice calls made on cell phones and ADHD risk among children exposed to lead in their environment. (2)
In this longitudinal study, 2,422 children at 27 elementary schools from 10 cities in South Korea were examined and followed up two years later. One fourth of the students were considered “lead-exposed,”
In the current study, heavier cell phone users either made 3 or more outgoing voice calls a day on average, spent a minute or more on calls, or logged 70 or more hours of calls in their lifetime. These children had 2-3 times the odds of developing ADHD symptoms as compared to other “lead-exposed”
The paper reviewed prior research which has shown (a) that exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields can increase cognitive impairment and behavioral disorders including hyperactivity;
Prior studies conducted by researchers in Los Angeles have found increased behavioral problems reported by mothers of children in Denmark who were exposed to cell phone radiation pre- and post-natally. (5, 6)
A recent experimental study conducted by researchers at Yale University found that mice exposed prenatally to cell phone radiation later exhibited ADHD-like symptoms, and the degree of impairment was related to the number of hours of prenatal cell phone exposure. (7)
In the U.S., exposure to lead is quite common as it can be found in a variety of sources including paint in homes built before 1978; water pumped through leaded pipes; imported items like clay pots; certain consumer products (e.g., candies, makeup and jewelry); and certain imported home remedies.
Although the current study has some limitations, the authors made the following recommendation:
• “preventing the use of mobile phones in children may be one measure to keep children from developing ADHD symptoms regardless of the possible roles of mobile phone use in ADHD symptoms, i.e., whether potentiating the effect of lead exposure due to RF exposure and voice calls or behavioral aggravation due to high rates of playing games on a mobile phone.”
For more information about Electromagnetic Radiation Safety, see http://saferemr.com and saferemr on Facebook.
Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D.
School of Public Health
University of California, Berkeley
(1) Alan Schwarz and Sarah Cohen, New York Times, “A.D.H.D. seen in 11% of U.S. children as diagnoses rise.” March 31, 2012.
(2) Byun Y-H, Ha M, Kwon H-J, Hong Y-C, Leem J-H, et al. (2013) Mobile Phone Use, Blood Lead Levels, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Symptoms in Children: A Longitudinal Study. PLoS ONE 8(3): e59742. doi:10.1371/
Background Concerns have developed for the possible negative health effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) exposure to children’s brains. The purpose of this longitudinal study was to investigate the association between mobile phone use and symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) considering the modifying effect of lead exposure.
Methods A total of 2,422 children at 27 elementary schools in 10 Korean cities were examined and followed up 2 years later. Parents or guardians were administered a questionnaire including the Korean version of the ADHD rating scale and questions about mobile phone use, as well as socio-demographic factors. The ADHD symptom risk for mobile phone use was estimated at two time points using logistic regression and combined over 2 years using the generalized estimating equation model with repeatedly measured variables of mobile phone use, blood lead, and ADHD symptoms, adjusted for covariates.
Results The ADHD symptom risk associated with mobile phone use for voice calls but the association was limited to children exposed to relatively high lead.
Conclusions The results suggest that simultaneous exposure to lead and RF from mobile phone use was associated with increased ADHD symptom risk, although possible reverse causality could not be ruled out.
(3) Exhibit 5-2. Blood lead concentrations for the U.S. population age 1 year and older by selected demographic groups. Environmental Protection Agency. URL: http://cfpub.epa.gov/
(4) POP1 Child population: Number of children (in millions) ages 0–17 in the United States by age, 1950–2011 and projected 2012–2050. Forum on Child and Family Statistics: ChildStats.gov. URL: http://www.childstats.gov/
(5) Divan HA, Kheifets L, Obel C, Olsen J. Cell phone use and behavioural problems in young children. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2010 Dec 7. [Epub ahead of print]
(6) Divan HA, Kheifets L, Obel C, Olsen J. Prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phone use and behavioral problems in children. Epidemiology. 2008 Jul;19(4):523-
(7) Tamir S. Aldad, Geliang Gan, Xiao-Bing Gao & Hugh S. Taylor. Fetal radiofrequency radiation exposure from 800-1900 Mhz-rated cellular telephones affects neurodevelopment and behavior in mice. Scientific Reports. Published online March 15, 2012. Corrected February 18, 2013. http://www.nature.com/
Page Updated Last on: Oct 25, 2013