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Are cell phones dangerous to babies?
July 24, 2009 10:24 PM   Subscribe

Please help calm an over anxious first time mom. Is it dangerous for a baby to be around a cell phone constantly?

My son is two months old. When I nurse him, I use my Blackberry Bold constantly, either checking e-mail, on the phone or on the internet. Is it dangerous for him to be so close to the device so often? The kid's a non stop eater........
posted by Elaisa to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Aw. Congrats!

Your phone is not a danger to your baby. Carry on.
posted by padraigin at 10:30 PM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, some people think cellphone radiaton can be bad for people, so it stands to reason that if those people are correct they would be bad for kids. The only thing I was able to find any reference to was this UCLA study showing a possible link between cellphone use, either by pregnant mothers or by the kids themselves. But the researchers themselves say:
“These results were unexpected and should be interpreted cautiously,” say Drs. Leeka Kheifets and Jørn Olsen, study authors of the paper. “We do not know how this use could cause behavioral problems, and the association between these two factors could turn out to be unfounded. On the other hand, if cell phone use early in life has impact on brain functions, it should be seen as a public health concern.”
It doesn't seem like a big concern to me.
posted by delmoi at 10:40 PM on July 24, 2009


You can find someone who will tell you that any particular thing will kill your kids (and you). The vast majority of them are full of crap and should be ignored.

Cellphones are not a hazard to life or health, yours or your baby's.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:47 PM on July 24, 2009


The data is inconclusive. The studies that point to risks show them at very short distances; having a cell phone pressed against the ear may disrupt sleep patterns even if you don't know it's on (and who knows what else it could affect? I would certainly be concerned about a developing child, although if we were going to see catastrophic effects I expect they'd have started to appear by now). Radiation falls off like the square of distance, though. So doubling the distance by moving an inch or so away (using a very rough estimate for the distance from ear to brain) means you're only getting 1/4 of the radiation. Moving another inch puts you at 1/9 the radiation, etc.

So you don't have to keep it very far from him before the radiation exposure becomes negligible. And remember, the effects that have been seen so far have been so subtle that we can't even be sure they're real! So don't be too worried if you do rest your phone on his head once in a while.
posted by Lady Li at 12:10 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


The photons coming off a cell phone are of such low energy relative to those you cheerfully expose your child to (visible and infrared light) that it's hard to imagine them doing any harm and the light not reducing a baby (or you and I) to smoking cinders.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:43 AM on July 25, 2009


Have a look at all the serious science surrounding this issue. All serious theories about how cell phones could cause problems are centered around the fact that you're holding the phone right next to your ear while it's transmitting. If you don't let the kid talk on the phone for hours and hours, even sceptics (who are not crackpots) will tell you it's safe.
posted by themel at 2:46 AM on July 25, 2009


The photons coming off a cell phone are of such low energy relative to those you cheerfully expose your child to (visible and infrared light) that it's hard to imagine them doing any harm and the light not reducing a baby (or you and I) to smoking cinders.

Well obviously the human body will have different levels of opacity for different frequencies. Some waves can go right through body whereas obviously visible light doesn't. I'm not saying they do anything but the fact that visible light doesn't do anything doesn't really mean that lower frequencies couldn't. UV light (which has higher energy photons, true) can cause skin cancer, while other frequencies of light don't, for example.
posted by delmoi at 3:23 AM on July 25, 2009


The science hasn't yielded a concrete answer on the matter, with contradictory results reported depending on who is paying for the research. You should ignore fools who claim any certainty otherwise. Keeping cellphones away from your child's developing brain is a perfectly smart, sane and reasonable thing to do, in the meantime.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:26 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Because your resources are finite, you need to choose your battles even when protecting the fruit of your loins. The only way you can find the time to avoid risks this tiny is by neglecting other, much more serious risks. Put this out of your mind and focus on stuff that's actually likely to matter.
posted by jon1270 at 3:31 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, let me give you some cites that reinforce themel's (correct) summary of the science: So, yeah, the best information suggests "don't worry too much, although you might not want to rest the phone on the kid." It's still possible that some researcher somewhere will turn up something odd or that there will be some sort of long-term (30+ year) effects going on, but we don't have any real evidence for either at the moment.

At the end of the day "being a good parent" is about making the best decisions you can with the information and resources available to you. Driving (or rather, being driven) is probably still your child's biggest risk in life, I'd bet, and there's a ton of other things worth worrying about more - resurgence of vaccine-supressed diseases, that sort of thing.
posted by rodgerd at 3:48 AM on July 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


The science hasn't yielded a concrete answer on the matter, with contradictory results reported depending on who is paying for the research. You should ignore fools who claim any certainty otherwise. Keeping cellphones away from your child's developing brain is a perfectly smart, sane and reasonable thing to do

Sure, where "keeping cellphones away from your child's developing brain" means "don't press your cellphone against your baby's head for hours at a time". Unless the baby's head makes for a good spot to store the cellphone while in use this probably isn't an issue.

Even if the radiation from a cell phone proves to be problematic it would only be an issue for things extremely close to it. Like when you hold the thing an inch from your brain for 6 hours a day.
posted by Justinian at 5:35 AM on July 25, 2009


It's also very important to note that even if some day they show a statistically significant effect, the SIZE of that effect will be incredibly small.

If you've got something that might cause cancer in 1 in a 100 people, you don't need to collect data for very long to spot the effect. Big effects are pretty easy to find.

If it causes cancer in 1 in 100,000 and only after decades of exposure, you need a study that goes on for YEARS to collect enough data.

So basically, it ain't worth worrying about. If it's ever shown to be "dangerous" (BIG If) cell phone use will still be an order of magnitude (or more) safer than riding in a car.
posted by paanta at 8:04 AM on July 25, 2009


The only danger I can tell you about is this... Your son will see that cellphone all the time, and when he gets big enough he'll want to grab and play with that thing. So it might be dangerous for the phone in the future. Congrats
posted by sporaticgenius at 8:46 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's unlikely that any potentially dangerous radiation, if there even is any, has any danger a foot away from the phone.
posted by theora55 at 10:14 AM on July 25, 2009


Have a look at this.
posted by Netzapper at 5:01 PM on July 25, 2009


Thank you everyone!
posted by Elaisa at 10:55 AM on July 29, 2009


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