A study linking EMF exposure to pregnant women and asthma in their offspring suggests taking precautionary measures to ensure the health of their children.
Pregnant women who are exposed to high levels of Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) may face a greater risk of their children suffering from asthma, according to a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
How are we exposed EMFs?
Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) are generated by many common items that we encounter every day as we go about our lives, including overhead power lines that supply us with electricity; household appliances like your microwave, vacuum cleaner and hair dryer; and electronic gadgets such as radiation from iPad, tablet, cell phone and laptop. So, while you may think that you have no reason to worry, this may be a false sense of security.
Scientific Assessment of EMF Exposure Risks
For this study, the research team compared the level of daily EMF exposure of more than 800 pregnant Californian women and tracked the medical history of their children up until thirteen years of age to ascertain whether they developed asthma or not. The researchers discovered that children born to women who had high EMF exposure during pregnancy were more than three times as likely to develop asthma as those born to women who had low levels of EMF exposure during pregnancy.
While previous studies have shown that exposure to magnetic fields can disrupt the immune system, cause various types of cell phone cancer, lead to in infertility in men, and cause miscarriages, this scientific study is the first to show that exposure to magnetic fields in mom’s-to-be is associated with a higher risk of asthmatic children. EMFs, such as those emitted by laptops and cell phones, have since been listed as a potentially carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer – a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to lead author of the study, De-Kun Li, an epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, who specializes in reproductive and perinatal epidemiology: “While the replication of the finding is needed, the message here is exposure to electromagnetic fields is not good, and we need to pay attention to its adverse effect on health.”
Link Between EMF Exposure and Asthma
“EMF exposure is ubiquitous. Because of the widespread exposure, any adverse health effect of EMF could impact many people and cause a serious public health problem.”
Over the last 30 years or so the incidence of asthma has been steadily increasing. It is now the most common chronic medical condition found in children – 13% of children under the age of eighteen suffer from asthma, a condition that arises due to a malfunctioning immune and respiratory and systems.
“EMF exposure is ubiquitous. Because of the widespread exposure, any adverse health effect of EMF could impact many people and cause a serious public health problem,” explained Dr. Li.
Researching the effects of EMF on health can be tricky, as we are all exposed to Electromagnetic Fields to some degree. Consequently, nobody is truly unexposed, so forming a control group comprised of people that have not been exposed to EMF is all but impossible, making comparative studies difficult. Research studies can only make comparisons between people who have high exposure to EMF and those that have low exposure to EMFs to determine if there are any potential harmful effects with increased exposure.
For this particular study, pregnant women wore a tiny meter that measured daily low-frequency magnetic field exposure, but it did not measure high-frequency magnetic fields such as those emitted from cell phone towers, WiFi networks, and wireless electronic devices.
“In this study, we observed a dose-response relationship between mother’s MF level in pregnancy and the asthma risk in her offspring. In other words, a higher maternal MF exposure during pregnancy led to a higher asthma risk in offspring,” said Dr. Li.
The study also showed that two known asthma risk factors – the mother having had asthma, and being the mother’s first-born child – exacerbated the effect of EMF exposure to asthma risk, which according to the researchers, supports the link between EMF exposure and asthma even further.
How to Reduce EMF Exposure
“The best way to reduce your magnetic field exposure is distance. Magnetic field strength drops dramatically with increasing distance from the source,” said Li. “So pregnant women should try to limit their exposure to known MF sources and keep distance from them when they are in use.”
Laptops, tablets and cell phones pose a particularly high EMF hazard due to the proximity of these devices to our body when in use, and the length of time we spend using them. To reduce the risk of asthma in their unborn child, pregnant women are advised to take precautionary measures to limit exposure and use EMF protection when using these devices.