MONDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Children exposed to cell phones in the womb and after birth had a higher risk of behavior problems by their seventh birthday, possibly related to the electromagnetic fields emitted by the devices, a new study of nearly 29,000 children suggests.
The findings replicate those of a 2008 study of 13,000 children conducted by the same U.S. researchers. And while the earlier study did not factor in some potentially important variables that could have affected its results, this new one included them, said lead author Leeka Kheifets, an epidemiologist at the School of Public Health at the University of California at Los Angeles.
"These new results back the previous research and reduce the likelihood that this could be a chance finding," said Kheifets. She stressed that the findings suggest, but do not prove, a connection between cell phone exposure and later behavior problems in kids.
The study was published online Dec. 6 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
In the study, Kheifets and her colleagues wrote that further studies are needed to "replicate or refute" their findings. "Although it is premature to interpret these results as causal," they concluded, "we are concerned that early exposure to cell phones could carry a risk, which, if real, would be of public health concern given the widespread use of the technology."
The researchers used data from 28,745 children enrolled in the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC), which follows the health of 100,000 Danish children born between 1996 and 2002, as well as the health of their mothers. Almost half the children had no exposure to cell phones at all, providing a good comparison group.
The data included a questionnaire mothers completed when their children turned seven, which asked about family lifestyle, childhood diseases, and cell phone use by children,
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