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New study links mobile use to child misbehaviour

Is heavy mobile use amongst pregnant women affecting their offspring?
Is heavy mobile use amongst pregnant women affecting their offspring?

A new study links misbehaviour in children to mobile phone use among pregnant women.

Researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles looked at data from 28,000 seven-year-olds and their mothers who had participated in a long-term Danish study tracking 100,000 pregnant women between 1996 and 2002.

Cellphone misbehaviour

The researchers indicate that there could be a link between heavy mobile use amongst pregnant women and behavioral problems in their offspring.

"It is hard to understand how such low exposures could be influential," Dr. Leeka Kheifets, an epidemiologist at the University of California Los Angeles said, but added that, "it is just something that needs to be pursued."

The mothers of three per cent of the children said they had borderline behavioural problems, and a further three per cent displayed obedience issues or emotional problems.

The research is outlined in the latest issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Despite numerous studies, there is still no conclusive evidence that mobile use can damage health, according to the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health in the US.

Inattention to blame?

Kheifets added that her research team also "looked at social status, we looked at the sex of the child, we looked at the mother's history of behavioral problems, we looked at the mother's age and stress during pregnancy and whether the child was breastfed or not.

"One thought was that it was it not cellphone use but mothers' inattention that led to behavior problems," she added. "While it was important, it didn't explain the association that we found."

Sceptics have been quick to dismiss the research, with David Spiegelhalter, a professor of Biostatistics at the University of Cambridge noting: "I am sceptical of these results, even though they will get a lot of publicity.

"The authors suggest that precautionary measures may be warranted because they have 'virtually no cost', but they ignore the cost of giving intrusive health advice based on inadequate science."

Via Reuters