Is your Cell Phone Harming Your Child’s Brain?


Despite the obvious advantages offered by cell phones, health experts keep cautioning about the impact of these wireless devices on human health. Despite conflicting findings a number of studies have indicated possible harmful effects of cell phone usage on health. The worrisome thing is the harmful effects of cell phone usage are not limited to adults. The findings of a new study have unveiled mothers using cell phones while nursing can affect brain development of their babies adversely.

brain development for childA number of previous studies conducted on the effects of cell phone radiation have warned that proximity to radiation can harm a kid in various ways. However, this study focuses on cell phone usage by mothers and its impact on brain development of the baby. As it is, nearly all mothers keep using cell phones during the majority of times- whether they are at home or work! The study findings indicate that repeated cell phone usage during baby care can affect the brain development of infants in an adverse way. It may even lead to the onset of a set of emotional disorders in those babies later.

These disorders and conditions may include but are not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Addiction and dependence on drugs
  • Risky behavioral patterns

The study was carried out by University of California researchers. The findings reveal when mothers care for their kids, interruptions can leave a long term impact. These interruptions include cell phone messages and calls too. The study was not carried out on humans, but the significance cannot be over looked according to the researchers.

Researcher Tallie Baram of the University of California said, “It is known that vulnerability to emotional disorders, such as depression, derives from interactions between our genes and the environment, especially during sensitive developmental periods. Our work builds on many studies showing that maternal care is important for future emotional health. Importantly, it shows that it is not how much maternal care that influences adolescent behavior, but the avoidance of fragmented and unpredictable care that is crucial.” The study findings are available in the Translational Psychiatry journal.

Cell Phones and Impact on Child’s Brain – The Study

The researchers carried out this study on adolescent rats brought up in either chaotic or calm environment. They also resorted to using proven mathematical approaches to analyze the nurturing behavior of mothers. While typical maternal care was nearly same in term of quantity and quality, the rhythms and pattern were different. This had an impact on how rodent kids were developed.


Female rats kept in a chaotic environment showed traces of unpredictable behavior, even when caring for the kids. The rodent off-springs later showed little interest in peer play or eating sweet food- similar to signs of depression in humans. It indicates a note of depression in those rodents.

From the outcome, the researchers reached the conclusion that consistent patterns and rhythms should be part of maternal care to ensure proper brain development of the babies. Without continuous and predictable stimuli, the neuron networks in a baby’s brain don’t develop well. The dopamine-receptor circuits in a baby’s brain are not mature. The circuits get stimulated by predictable and regular patterns. When the baby’s brain is deprived of such regular patterns, they may be subjected to depression.

Other studies showing Cell Phones Hazardous effect on Kids’ Health?

The impact of microwave radiation emitted by devices like cell phone can be harmful to the kid’s brain, studies have shown. An extensive study published in the Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure by L. Lloyd Morgan showed children face more health risk than adults from exposure to microwave radiation from cell phones and similar devices. The cell phone exposure studies reviewed show infants and even unborn babies face risk from these radiations. Since the brain tissues of kids are more absorbent- absorption of microwave radiation is easier and it may lead to degeneration of protective sheath encircling brain neurons. Morgan has cautioned mothers against using cell phones while nursing kids.

What it all leads to?

As per the findings, it is not the amount of maternal care that affects the baby’s brain development, but the fragmented care is the culprit here. Mothers may switch off their cell phones while attending to the kids to avoid such situations later. Overall, it makes sense to keep cell phones away from the kids during nurturing them and at other times to avoid damage to the brain. It would be a good idea not to keep a cell phone in a baby’s room to avoid damage to the brain and overall health in various ways.