The medical community has a critical role to play in preventing harm from wireless radiation by educating parents and advocating for stricter regulatory action, according to top environmental scientists who published a review of the latest science on pediatric health and electromagnetic fields (EMF) and radiofrequency (RF) radiation.
The authors — “distinguished experts in medicine, epidemiology, toxicology, physics, biochemical engineering and public health who collectively have published more than 1,000 papers” — concluded that children are “uniquely vulnerable” to the RF radiation emitted by wireless devices, such as tablets, smartphones and virtual reality.
“Current government safety limits are outdated and do not reflect the latest science nor the way children use wireless technology today,” said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D, co-author of the review and former director of the National Toxicology Program and National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences.
Devra Davis, Ph.D., M.P.H., founder and president of the Environmental Health Trust and lead author, said, “The science indicates that wireless radiation acts like a classic endocrine disruptor” and can impair memory, behavior, fertility and brain development, as well as lead to cancer and neurological illness.
In their review, Davis and her co-authors referenced more than 200 studies that associate wireless EMF/RF radiation with negative biological effects including oxidative stress and DNA damage, cardiomyopathy, carcinogenicity, sperm damage, memory damage and neurological effects.
Children at heightened risk of wireless radiation
Children’s unique physiology, including smaller heads and more fluid in their brains, results in proportionately greater absorption of RF radiation than adults, the authors of the review said.
For instance, children can absorb up to 30 times more the amount of RF radiation in their hippocampus and 10 times more in the bone marrow of their skull.
The authors included a figure showing the radiation pattern simulated from a
Wi-Fi tablet into the head of a 6-year-old:
Children’s brain and body tissues have a higher “dielectric constant” — a measurement of the ease with which electromagnetic fields can move through different media, they said.
Research has repeatedly linked RF radiation with lower memory performance in adolescents.
The authors also pointed out that in two studies involving more than 40,000 children, researchers found kids exposed to cellphones prenatally reported having more behavioral difficulties, such as emotional and hyperactivity problems, when they reached school age.
Human studies on in-utero exposure to EMF/RF radiation found an increased risk of miscarriage for the mother and negative health effects for the child, including obesity, asthma and ADHD (or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), they said.
Current FCC wireless radiation limits fail to protect children
The American Academy of Pediatrics has long advocated for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations to be updated to address children’s vulnerability, the authors said.
They pointed out that researchers who analyzed the data from large-scale animal studies that showed cellphone radiation was linked to cancer concluded that the FCC’s limits on RF radiation would need to be strengthened by 200 to 400 times to effectively protect children.
In 2021, Children’s Health Defense won its historic case against the FCCchallenging the agency’s decision not to review its 1996 health and safety guidelines regarding wireless-based technologies.
Despite the win, the agency has yet to update its guidelines.
Meg Sears, Ph.D., — also a co-author of the review — and chair of Prevent Cancer Now and a research associate at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada said:
“A false presumption that wireless radiation is only harmful when tissue is over-heated has blocked progress in health protection in many (but not all) countries for decades.”
Sears, who studied biochemical engineering and applied chemistry, said, “One mechanism that initiates harms, including cancers, is well known by chemical engineers and commercialized as ‘microwave catalysis.’”
Theodora Scarato, executive director of Environmental Health Trust, pointed out some countries have enacted policies to reduce children’s exposure to wireless radiation.
“U.S. government limits allow radiation emissions 10 to 100 times higher than numerous countries such as Switzerland, Italy, China, Russia and India,” Scarato said. “Many countries have more stringent laws to protect children and restrict cell towers near homes and schools.”
France and Belgium banned the sale of cellphones designed for young children, and Israel banned wireless equipment in nursery schools, she added.
The authors outlined steps that professional medical and public health organizations can take to educate and motivate their members to advocate for more protective regulations.
They also urged doctors to integrate a preventive approach into their clinical practice by educating patients and families on simple measures to minimize wireless exposure.
“We highly recommend educating parents on why and how to reduce wireless radiation exposures, especially during pregnancy,” said Dr. Hugh Taylor, a professor and department chair of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine, whose research has found increased hyperactivity and damage to memory in mice prenatally exposed to cellphone radiation.
Parents can minimize their children’s use of wireless devices and encourage them to hold the device as far from their brain and body as possible, they said.
When watching videos on a device, parents can pre-download movies and then put the device into airplane mode — which switches off the wireless antennas — before handing the device to the child.