12 reasons why you should consider EMF protection during pregnancy
This article was written by Una Phelan, Environmental Scientist and Owner of Econscious Living.
During my first pregnancy back in 2008, I didn’t even think to take a multi-vitamin. I was running on adrenalin: deadline to deadline with seemingly no time to stop and think of anything much except work. Fortunately for me back in 2008, what I believe to be one of the greatest hazards to our health, wireless devices, were really just taking off. Just ten years prior to that, only 1% of us had brick-like mobile phones. Now five billion of us, or almost 70% of the world’s population from the Amazon to the Andes, own a mobile phone.
What has all this got to do with a healthy pregnancy? My hope is that by the end of this blog you will understand why you should seriously consider EMF protection during pregnancy and beyond. Never heard of EMF before? Let me explain.
EMF: A modern-day concern
I’m sure you would agree that the pace of our daily lives has accelerated greatly over the last ten years. Without a doubt, much of this has to do with the convenience of invisible wireless technology, brought to us via high-frequency Electro-Magnetic Fields, otherwise known as EMF. As a result, most of us are on-call 24/7, many of us operating effectively as shift workers bathing in a sea of EMF and artificial light day and night.
We all appreciate the convenience wireless technologies brings but few of us have the time to dig deeper and understand what it all means to our health and especially that of our most vulnerable: pregnant women and children.
What stresses are wireless technologies putting on our bodies?
What are Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF)?
Before we look at the independent scientific evidence and how you can protect yourself, first let’s explain what I mean by EMF and how and where we are exposed to it.
Simply put, EMF radiation is energy travelling through space or materials. Non-ionising radiation is the type you get from your wireless devices operating in your home or workplace. Every single wireless device emits EMF. Interestingly in 1990, there was an average of less than one wireless device in our homes, by 2013 we had an average of 5.7 devices!
We can’t see it, smell it, taste it or hear it but wireless radiation is all around us – it’s sadly an invisible threat that mostly goes unnoticed.
In this blog, I talk about high-frequency EMF radiation that you will also hear referred to as radio-waves or microwaves. The types of devices that emit high-frequency EMF includes routers, mobile phones and towers, tablets, laptops, cordless telephones, baby monitors, Bluetooth headsets and speakers, smart TVs, Apple TVs, fitness activity trackers and microwave ovens etc. There is also an increasing variety of smart devices aimed at new mums and babies, everything from wireless potties, nappies and pacifiers.
Many of these devices (and others) will also emit another type of EMF known as low-frequency EMF, also known as magnetic fields. These magnetic fields are more commonly associated with power lines, meter boxes, washing machines and high power kitchen appliances.
You don’t need to remember all of these different types of EMF but as I will explain there is an increasing body of scientific evidence telling us that we should consider EMF protection during pregnancy regardless of the type or source.
Where’s the Scientific Proof?
Thousands of studies have been published linking EMF radiation with ill-health effects. Why don’t you hear about them? This statistic may help you understand… of those studies undertaken by non-industry scientists 70% find that EMF has a biological effect. Of those undertaken by industry, only 32% find a biological effect. The telecommunications industry is a very powerful and profitable one.
Way back in 2002, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, a division of the World Health Organisation) categorised AC magnetic fields as a possible carcinogen. In 2011, high-frequency radiation from wireless devices and the like were also similarly categorised.
Should you consider EMF protection during pregnancy?
So let’s have a look at some science to help you understand whether or not you should consider EMF protection during pregnancy. Many studies show possible links between EMF radiation and miscarriages, birth defects, autism, attention deficit disorder, neurological dysfunction, hyperactivity, learning disorders, thyroid dysfunction, obesity and childhood asthma etc.
You will notice that some of these studies are conducted on animals. From an ethical standpoint, understandably we can’t blast pregnant women with EMF. However, many of the studies listed also look at measurements of EMF in the homes of pregnant mothers and those of children with health problems such as autism.
I briefly summarise a few of the studies but you will find a comprehensive list here.
- UCLA researchers studied 13 000 mothers and children and found that both prenatal and postnatal exposure to mobile phones was associated with a higher risk for behavioural problems and hyperactivity in children when assessed at age seven.
- A landmark study published in late 2017 by scientist De-Kun Li (a reproductive and prenatal epidemiology specialist) assessed the association between high EMF radiation and miscarriage risk in 913 pregnant women. Controlling for many factors, it was found that women who were exposed to higher magnetic fields had almost three times the risk of miscarriage than those with lower magnetic field exposure.
- The same author has published several research studies finding higher EMF exposure during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of asthma and obesity in offspring. Asthma was clinically diagnosed among 626 children who were followed up for as long as 13 years. All participants carried a meter to measure their magnetic fields levels during pregnancy. The higher the AC magnetic fields, the higher the risk of asthma developing.
- In the aforementioned obesity study, participating women carried a meter measuring magnetic fields levels during pregnancy and 733 of their children were followed for up to 13 years to collect clinically recorded information on growth patterns. Higher magnetic fields resulted in a 69% higher risk of weight problems and obesity during childhood.
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How do you protect yourself?
The laws of physics dictate that the closer you are to any of these EMF emitting devices the more heavily you are being exposed. Move away and the levels start to drop off significantly. Therefore, the most important rule is to keep wireless devices away from your body.
Did you know that if you dig into the fine print of every single smartphone and device (laptop, printer) you will find a recommendation from the manufacturer to use your smartphone or device away from your body, wherever possible?
It really doesn’t make sense given we hold them to our head (brain), our reproductive organs, abdominals and our breasts all the time. On an iPhone, you can find this information by going into settings/general/about/legal/RF exposure.
The reason for this recommendation is that some studies have shown that when tested on body contact some smartphones and wireless devices exceed safety standards. The catch is, that even held at the suggested distance from your body you are still not safe due to safety standards that are thirty years old (that is, pre-wireless technology). But that’s another story for another blog. Read on to find out what else you can do to protect yourself during pregnancy and beyond.
How To Protect Yourself During Pregnancy
- At a minimum unplug your wireless router at night and only turn on during the day when you need it. Ethernet connections are actually a much safer and secure alternative.
- Do not install a router in your bedroom, living area or study, that is, in areas where you spend a lot of time.
- Replace a DECT cordless phone with a corded phone.
- Reduce time standing in front of operating kitchen appliances especially microwaves and induction cooktop ovens.
- Never put a laptop on your lap!
- Don’t ever have your mobile phone turned on close to your body (pocket, bra etc).
- Turn off your mobile phone or put it in aeroplane mode when you don’t need it.
- Make only short or essential calls on mobile phones, otherwise, use text or speakerphone.
- Never sleep on the other side of a wall that has a meter box, fridge or washing machine running (many houses I assess have washing machines on the other side of children’s cots).
- Never move into a home or adjacent to one with solar panels unless you have had the home inspected by an EMF expert.
- Replace your digital alarm clock with a battery operated clock.
- Don’t use electric blankets or water beds.
There is a very good reason why many governments around the world (such as in Cyprus, France) have banned or restricted the use of wireless devices or mobile phones in kindergartens and schools. If in doubt, we should always take the precautionary approach.
Are you a little shocked by what you have learned in this blog? Feel duped that you were never told about it before? I hear you. My own problems with EMF began when my son was just 10 months old. I spent years trying to solve his relentless sleep problems in the form of night terrors. How I wish I had known much sooner that EMF could have such an impact on your whole family. You can read all about my personal story with EMF here. It’s why I do, what I do.
If this resonates with you, and you’re about to welcome a new life into your home or have little ones running around, check out my EMF Testing Service to see how I can help you with EMF testing in your home.
Una Phelan is an Environmental Scientist and uses her skills to show you how to analyse your lifestyle in a simple, actionable manner.
If you would like to find out more about the healthy home services that Una offers head to her website.
This post is sponsored by Econscious Living.