Relax, Mums-to-be. Electromagnetic radiation emitted by your mobiles phone is "unlikely" to be harming your babby's brain, new research shows.
Previous studies that raised concerns using mobiles during pregnancy might affect the language, communication and motor skills of newborns were experimental, inconsistent - and exclusively carried out using animals that weren't, well, humans. This new study, however, followed 45,000 human mothers and their children.
"The concern for harm to the foetus caused by radio frequency electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by mobile phones, is mainly driven by reports from experimental animal studies with inconsistent results," explains Dr Eleni Papadopoulou, lead author from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
"Even though this is an observational study, our findings do not support the hypothesis of adverse effects on child's language, communication and motor skills due to the use of mobile phone during pregnancy."
The researchers analysed data from a large Norwegian population-based pregnancy cohort study called MoBa, which involves a range of data collected from mothers and children during and after pregnancy. Data used in this study included self-reported questionnaire data from 45,389 mother-child pairs. The data covered both mobile phone use during pregnancy, and neurodevelopment follow ups of the children at ages 3 and 5.
"More specifically, mobile phone use in pregnancy was associated with lower risk of the child having low language and motor skills at 3 years of age," said Professor Jan Alexander, senior author from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
"Although we adjusted for important socio-demographic characteristics as well as maternal personality and psychological factors, we think this protective effect is more likely to be explained by factors not measured in this study having an impact on the mobile phone use and child's neurodevelopment, rather than the maternal mobile phone use in itself."
The researchers found that children born to mobile phone users had a 27 per cent lower risk of having lower sentence complexity, 14 per cent lower risk of incomplete grammar and 31 per cent lower risk of having moderate language delay at age 3, compared to children of mothers who reported no mobile phone use.
They also found that children born to mobile phone users had an 18 per cent lower risk of low motor skills at age 3, compared to children born to non-users of mobile phones. The beneficial effects remained even after adjusting for relevant variables, and were also relative to the level of reported mobile phone use by the mother.
"Our large study provides evidence that pregnant women's use of cell phone is not associated with risk of harming neurodevelopment of the foetus," Professor Alexander said.
"The beneficial effects we report should be interpreted with caution due to the limitations common in observational studies, but our findings should at least alleviate any concern mothers have about using their mobile phone while pregnant."