By Dr N S Kanimozhi
Pregnancy is not an illness and while it comes as a blessing, it also brings its own set of concerns. Every expecting mother needs to be aware of guidelines and safety measures along with dietary restrictions that need to be followed to ensure a healthy and smooth pregnancy journey.
Why the worry over wireless
In today’s technology driven world, you don’t just rely on your cell phone to stay in touch with friends and family, but to get your work done and keep track of what’s going on around you. Wireless Internet connections, laptops and tablets are just as ubiquitous, day and night. While technology comes as a boon it is important to note that cell phones and other wireless devices emit radio waves.
Radiation from mobile phones, computers and wireless routers are likely to have an impact on the growing foetus. Expecting mothers are recommended to have limited exposure to radiation during this phase. With so much of technology available, expecting mothers need to be aware that radiation is a kind of energy. Every individual is exposed to small amounts of radiation nearly every day. This radiation comes from natural sources (like sun rays) and man-made sources (like microwave ovens and medical X-rays, scanning machines). However, if you are pregnant, any kind of X-ray or other tests that use radiation, like computed tomography (also called CT or CAT scan), while they are safe to get during pregnancy, are important to be done under physician’s guidance.
Expecting mothers are encouraged to not be exposed to radiation during this important phase. Lesser the exposure to radiation lower will be the risk of birth defects in the newborn. Foetuses are particularly sensitive to radiation during their early development, between weeks 2 and 18 of pregnancy.
Globally, researchers have found that mobile phones emit radio waves, a type of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation which is not likely to affect the health of the mother or of the growing foetus. The possibility of severe health effects depends on the gestational age of the foetus at the time of exposure and the amount of radiation it is exposed to. Unborn babies are less sensitive during some stages of pregnancy than others.
Effects of mobile phones during pregnancy
Excessive and increased use of mobiles in the long-term can trigger insomnia, which leads to reduced bone density and brain activity as well. This is likely to be detrimental to foetal brain development and may result in behavioural issues like hyper activity. Global studies have proposed that lengthy exposure to mobile radiation during pregnancy can alter the gene sequence in mitochondria of the expected mom which may travel to the baby, affecting its DNA and lead to the developmental of degeneration illness in the child. Higher rate of exposure to radiation during pregnancy can also change brain activity of the pregnant women causing fatigue, anxiety, reduced memory and sleep disturbance. Constant and continued exposure to radio waves during pregnancy can interfere with receptors of the human body and may initiate an increasing risk of cancer.
Pregnant women should consult with their physicians if they have any concern about radiation exposure to their foetus.
(The writer is Gynaecologist and Obstetrician, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chennai.)