Exposure to magnetic fields during pregnancy, such as those produced by cell phones or microwaves, may increase a child’s risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according the findings of a new study.
Researchers from Kaiser Permanente report that magnetic field radiation commonly found in the air around homes and communities from cell phones, WiFi, electrical wires and microwaves can increase a child’s likelihood of developing ADHD.
In a report published this week in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, researchers outline the findings of a study conducted at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, which included nearly 1,500 mother-child pairs whose mothers were exposed to MF non-ionizing radiation, or magnetic field radiation. The levels of MF radiation were captured during pregnancy in two studies conducted October 2, 1996, to October 31, 1998, and from May 1, 1997, to December 31, 2017.
Every mother who participated wore a monitoring meter for 24 hours during pregnancy to capture the level of exposure to MF radiation from any source.
MF radiation is the type of radiation that is emitted from microwaves, cell phones, WiFi, cell phone towers, high-tension electrical wires, electrical appliances, Bluetooth signals and is generally in the air all around. Prior studies have linked MF radiation to an increased risk of cancer and other medical conditions. MF radiation becomes dangerous at levels of 1.3 milligrays and higher.
The study found a statistically significant link between maternal exposure to high levels of MF radiation during pregnancy and an increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. Children whose mothers were exposed to higher levels of MF radiation had twice the risk of ADHD.
The link was stronger for children who had severe cases of ADHD during adolescence compared to those without an ADHD diagnosis. The risk was also higher for children with ADHD and immune-related conditions, such as asthma or atopic dermatitis.
Overall, 4% of children in the study were diagnosed with ADHD; a disorder marked by patterns of inattention and/or hyperactivity that can interfere with development or functioning.
“Consistent with the emerging literature, this study suggests that in utero exposure to high levels of MF nonionizing radiation was associated with an increased risk of ADHD, especially ADHD with immune-related comorbidity,” the researchers determined. “The findings should spur more research to examine the biological association of in utero magnetic field exposure with risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in offspring.”