Is ADHD Linked to Cell Phones?

A new study finds radiation from phones can cause developmental issues.

Cell Phones(Photo via ThinkStock.)

Pregnancy has its rules: No soft cheeses. No cold cuts or sushi. No alcohol or smoking or bungee jumping (or at least that last recommendation is one that I’d suggest). But according to a new study published by the Yale School of Medicine, pregnant mothers may want to add cell phones to their list of things to avoid, as they may be linked to the development of ADHD in their children.

The study, published in the March 15 issue of Scientific Reports (which is released by Nature), found that mice who were exposed to radiation emitted by cell phones while in utero showed signs of brain developmental issues as adults:

The team measured the brain electrical activity of adult mice that were exposed to radiation as fetuses, and conducted a battery of psychological and behavioral tests. They found that the mice that were exposed to radiation tended to be more hyperactive and had reduced memory capacity. [Lead author Hugh S.] Taylor attributed the behavioral changes to an effect during pregnancy on the development of neurons in the prefrontal cortex region of the brain.

The prefrontal cortex happens to be the area of the brain where ADHD is localized, and Dr. Taylor, who is the head of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the hospital, has made a strong claim that cell phone exposure may be linked to the spike in ADHD cases we see today:

“We have shown that behavioral problems in mice that resemble ADHD are caused by cell phone exposure in the womb,” said Taylor. “The rise in behavioral disorders in human children may be in part due to fetal cellular telephone irradiation exposure.”

Of course, the scale of the radiation isn’t exactly what human fetuses would be exposed to, as the cell phones used in the experiment were human-sized not mouse-sized (though I would have loved to see a tiny mouse-sized cell phone made for the purpose of the study), and the gestation period of a mouse is only 19 days, not nine months. But if you hold your cell phone in your lap while you ride the bus, or sit on the couch, or keep it nearby while you work at your desk, you may want to think about doing a bit less of it while you’re pregnant.

Mommies-to-be: Will you rethink your cell-phone use?