Ori Goshen
Ori Goshen

July 30, 2012

New study: Is there a link between childhood obesity and radiation?

Fact: Obesity affects about one-fifth of all American children.

Fact: Asthma is the most prevalent chronic childhood disease.

Fact? There could be a link between these two common childhood conditions and... radiation exposure.

According to the new report released by senior researcher De-Kun Li of Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, CA, there is a link betweem EMF exposures for babies in utero and risks of these conditions later on.

"Maternal exposure to high [magnetic fields] during pregnancy may be a new and previously unknown factor contributing to the world-wide epidemic of childhood obesity/overweight," Li says in his report. This is the same researcher who last year found that magnetic field exposures may partially contribute to a decline in human sperm quality.

How was the study done? Pregnant women carried a meter measuring MF levels; 733 of the  children born were followed for up to 13 years afterward, with growth patterns recorded. With the data, and association was found between children with high levels of MF exposure in utero and increased risk of obesity.

A retired EMF epidemiologist, Sam Milham, said in an interview that he wasn't surprised by the findings: "Childhood obesity is unheard of among the Amish and I believe that at least part of the reason is that they don’t have electrical service in their homes, they don't drive cars and don’t use cell phones," Milham said. "Amish children also have very little asthma and diabetes."

Meanwhile, Li says there is certainly an 'underlying association.' The full report is published here.

What the study means for cell phone use and pregnancy isn't conclusive, of course. The research was focused on EMF exposure in general, and not specifically cell phone radiation. There are further studies planned.  

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