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Recent findings indicate that children who are exposed to radiofrequency fields from cell phone towers before birth do not have an increased risk of early childhood cancer. This study was published in the British Medical Journal.

The health effects—notably, cancer risk—of the radiofrequency fields created by cell phones and cell phone towers are a public health concern, as cell phone use is increasingly widespread. Though people living in proximity to cell phone towers may only be exposed to low levels of radiofrequency, the effect of this exposure on children has been questioned, as, due to smaller body size, children are exposed at a relatively higher dose. This recent study focused on the effects of radiofrequency field exposure on cancer risk among children who had been exposed before birth (i.e., children whose mothers lived in proximity to cell phone towers during pregnancy).

To evaluate the risk of developing early childhood cancers among children who had been exposed to radiofrequency fields from cell phone towers, researchers in the UK collected data from the national cancer registry on nearly 1,400 children. All were younger than four years and had been diagnosed with leukemia or brain and central nervous system cancers. They were compared with counterparts of the same age and sex who had not been diagnosed with cancer.

The researchers considered how close the children lived to cell phone towers at the time of birth and the total power output of nearby towers. They found no conclusive evidence of a link between cell phone tower proximity and increased incidence of early childhood cancers.

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The researchers note that because this study only considered levels of exposure before birth, further research evaluating radiofrequency field exposure during early childhood is warranted. They currently conclude, however, that exposure to cell phone towers before birth does not appear to increase the risk of early childhood cancers.

Reference: Elliott P, Toledano MB, Bennett J, et al. Mobile phone base stations and early childhood cancers: case-control study. British Medical Journal. 2010 June 22;340:c3077. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c3077.

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