Last Updated on April 15, 2020
If you have a baby on the way or are planning to conceive, you’re probably in the process of educating yourself on the “do’s and don’ts” of pregnancy.
We all know that giving children the best possible start to life begins in the womb–their health outcomes are deeply intertwined with your lifestyle choices and environment.
Armed with a plethora of books on motherhood, the Internet, and your family’s well meaning (and often unsolicited) advice, you resolve to care for your body as kindly as possible during those important nine (plus!) months.
You’ve purchased high-quality prenatal vitamins, you’re staying far away from alcohol, cigarettes, and other intoxicants, you won’t be indulging that raw oyster craving anytime soon, and discovering a mosquito bite on your arm has become reason to worry.
However, there is one pregnancy hazard that you likely haven’t come across in popular literature, even though it is something that nearly all of us encounter on a daily basis: Electromagnetic Field (EMF) radiation emitted by common mobile devices such as cell phones, tablets and notebook computers.
Concerning research recently released indicates that this type of exposure may increase risk of miscarriage.
Strengthening Correlation Between EMF Radiation and Miscarriage
In a Kaiser Permanente cohort study published in 2017, 913 women were followed throughout their pregnancies. Researchers were examining the possible connection between high amounts of exposure to EMF radiation and the probability of miscarriage.
Study subjects were given special meters to track the amount of EMFs they encountered over a typical 24 hour period, and were asked to keep a log of the day’s activities along with where they took place. Additionally, the subjects were asked to note what parts of their day involved high EMF exposure. Researchers were careful to check for other risk factors of miscarriage among subjects in order to avoid false findings.
The results of the study were not comforting, yet weren’t entirely unexpected; expectant mothers who fell into the “high exposure” category (75% of the subjects) were nearly three times as likely to miscarry compared to the “low exposure” group.
This is consistent with the findings of multiple studies done on the subject over the last 15 years: This 2016 Chinese study exposed female mice to Extremely Low frequency, or ELF, magnetic fields throughout their pregnancy, with grim results. The exposed group produced 60 percent less offspring; spontaneous abortions and fetal deformities were prevalent in this group. Slowed development was also observed in the offspring that did survive.
Similarly, this 2013 study focused on the effects of Extremely Low frequency EMF radiation on humans. 116 women, half of whom had experienced miscarriage, filled out questionnaires (regarding socio-economic status, medical and reproductive histories), and had their homes tested for levels of EMF radiation. The group of women that lost their unborn children were found to have significantly higher levels of EMFs within their homes.
One thing worth noting about the Kaiser study findings is that within the high exposure group, which was further broken down into 3 subgroups based on exposure amount, there was no dose-response relationship between higher amounts of EMF radiation and miscarriage.
In other words, it seems that the risk posed by EMF radiation appears once a certain threshold is reached, but exposure amounts that go beyond this threshold do not continue increase risk in a linear sense.
Also, the specific sources of EMF radiation did not seem to be significant; rather, it was the consistency of exposure that made a difference in miscarriage outcomes. So, driving past a cell tower on your morning commute is likely less risky than using a laptop on your lap all day for work.
How to Protect Yourself from EMF Radiation While Pregnant
The increasing likelihood that EMF-emitting devices, now ubiquitous in modern society, can significantly increase chances of spontaneous abortion is frightening.
But as with other risk factors, informing yourself and consciously limiting use of EMF radiation sources (or avoiding environments that are saturated with them) goes a long way in keeping you and your child safe. Below are some other tips to keep in mind:
- Avoiding EMF radiation is especially important during the first trimester, when the fetus is most vulnerable; 99 percent of miscarriages happen in the first 14 weeks. If you can’t limit sources through your full pregnancy, at least take special care to limit EMF radiation during the beginning of your pregnancy.
- Limit your use of laptops, tablets or other mobile devices such as cell phones if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.
- If you do need to use electronic mobile devices while pregnant, try not to put them directly on your lap or near your belly. You can also use an EMF radiation-blocking maternity blanket which will help to limit wireless radiation exposure when you use these devices.
- Take a look at the things you use on a daily basis: is there something you use frequently that produces EMF radiation? Cell phones and computers aren’t the only culprits. Electronic alarm clocks, electric blankets and older, bulky televisions should all be avoided as well. Baby monitors also emit EMF radiation! If you need to use one when your baby is born, place it as far away from your child as possible and turn it off when not in use.
- Don’t stress about it too much. Excessive stress doesn’t do you any favors during pregnancy and can itself become a risk factor for miscarriage. Do what you can to protect yourself, but don’t worry about the sources that are beyond your control. The changes you make in your own routine and immediate environment are what matter most.
Though the research available at present may not prove without a doubt that EMF radiation harms the health of mom and baby alike, it increasingly establishes that, at the very least, there is a possibility that harm can be done.
With something as precious as another human life, entirely dependent on the choices and environment of the one who carries it–if there is even the smallest chance of serious risk, reducing EMF radiation exposure in whatever ways possible is a precaution well worth taking.