Neurodevelopment for the first three years following prenatal mobile phone use, radio frequency radiation and lead exposure

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Abstract

Background:

Studies examining prenatal exposure to mobile phone use and its effect on child neurodevelopment show different results, according to child's developmental stages.

Objectives:

To examine neurodevelopment in children up to 36 months of age, following prenatal mobile phone use and radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposure, in relation to prenatal lead exposure.

Methods:

We analyzed 1198 mother-child pairs from a prospective cohort study (the Mothers and Children's Environmental Health Study). Questionnaires were provided to pregnant women at ≤20 weeks of gestation to assess mobile phone call frequency and duration. A personal exposure meter (PEM) was used to measure RFR exposure for 24 h in 210 pregnant women. Maternal blood lead level (BLL) was measured during pregnancy. Child neurodevelopment was assessed using the Korean version of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-Revised at 6, 12, 24, and 36 months of age. Logistic regression analysis applied to groups classified by trajectory analysis showing neurodevelopmental patterns over time.

Results:

The psychomotor development index (PDI) and the mental development index (MDI) at 6, 12, 24, and 36 months of age were not significantly associated with maternal mobile phone use during pregnancy. However, among children exposed to high maternal BLL in utero, there was a significantly increased risk of having a low PDI up to 36 months of age, in relation to an increasing average calling time (p-trend=0.008). There was also a risk of having decreasing MDI up to 36 months of age, in relation to an increasing average calling time or frequency during pregnancy (p-trend=0.05 and 0.007 for time and frequency, respectively). There was no significant association between child neurodevelopment and prenatal RFR exposure measured by PEM in all subjects or in groups stratified by maternal BLL during pregnancy.

Conclusions:

We found no association between prenatal exposure to RFR and child neurodevelopment during the first three years of life; however, a potential combined effect of prenatal exposure to lead and mobile phone use was suggested.

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