Significantly increased risk of asthma in babies

In a US study involving 800 mothers, doctors found evidence that exposure to electrosmog during pregnancy, even if it is only in the form of low-frequency fields, drastically increases the risk of asthma in their newborns.

The risk of asthma in babies is higher if their mothers were exposed to strong and persistent electrosmog during pregnancy. This is shown by a long-term study by US researchers on 801 expectant mothers and their children. Their findings: the low-frequency electromagnetic fields from power lines and electrical appliances are already harmful to health in the womb.

Electrosmog refers to low-frequency electromagnetic fields generated by microwaves, power lines or other electrical devices. It was not previously known that these fields could influence the health of children in the womb.

In their study, the researchers used a portable measuring device to determine how much and for how long the pregnant women were exposed to electrosmog in their environment. After the birth of their children, they followed their health for 13 years.

The result: children of highly exposed mothers developed asthma three times more frequently than the offspring of less exposed women. If the mother was already struggling with respiratory problems or if the child was the firstborn, this risk increased even further.

“This result supports the link between asthma and low-frequency magnetic fields,” says study leader De-Kun Li from the Kaiser Permanente Clinic in Oakland, California. Pregnant women should therefore try to minimize their exposure to these fields.

The magnetic field strength decreases dramatically with increasing distance from the source. The best protection against electrosmog is therefore to keep your distance. The results of the study are published online in the journal “Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine”.

The omnipresence of electromagnetic fields makes it difficult to determine their health effects in everyday situations, say the researchers. There are virtually no control groups without any exposure. In their study, Li and his colleagues therefore compared pregnant women with high and low exposure.

The scientists concentrated only on the electrosmog generated by electrical appliances and cables. Cell phone radiation, which tends to produce high-frequency fields, was not taken into account.

“In this study, we observed a clear dose-dependent relationship between the mothers’ exposure during pregnancy and their children’s asthma risk,” says Li. Because electromagnetic fields are present almost everywhere today, these and other potentially negative effects on health are a serious problem.

Further studies are still needed to confirm the results. “But the message is that exposure to electromagnetic fields is not good. We need to pay more attention to the negative effects on health,” says Li.

Source: Welt online, August 2, 2011

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