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American Academy of Pediatrics Issues New Recommendations to “Reduce Exposure to Cell Phones”

Sep 26, 2016

Nation’s largest group of children’s doctors responds to new government study linking cell phone radiation to cancer

In response to the U.S. National Toxicology Program study results finding exposure to wireless radiation significantly increased the prevalence of highly malignant heart and brain cancers in rodents, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued specific recommendations to reduce wireless cell phone exposure and updated their online resources for parents concerning cell phones and wireless devices.

“They’re not toys. They have radiation that is emitted from them and the more we can keep it off the body and use (the phone) in other ways, it will be safer,” said Jennifer A. Lowry, M.D., FAACT, FAAP, chair of the AAP Council on Environmental Health Executive Committee in the AAPs press release on the NTP Study Results.

Read official letters by the American Academy of Pediatrics on cell phone radiation. 

The AAP issued the following cell phone safety tips on their webpage Healthy Children Webpage on Cell Phones. They  specifically recommend to reduce exposure to wireless radiation:
Cell phone safety tips for families:
  • Use text messaging when possible, and use cell phones in speaker mode or with the use of hands-free kits.
  • When talking on the cell phone, try holding it an inch or more away from your head.
  • Make only short or essential calls on cell phones.
  • Avoid carrying your phone against the body like in a pocket, sock, or bra. Cell phone manufacturers can’t guarantee that the amount of radiation you’re absorbing will be at a safe level.
  • Do not talk on the phone or text while driving. This increases the risk of automobile crashes.
  • Exercise caution when using a phone or texting while walking or performing other activities. “Distracted walking” injuries are also on the rise.
  • If you plan to watch a movie on your device, download it first, then switch to airplane mode while you watch in order to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure.
  • Keep an eye on your signal strength (i.e. how many bars you have). The weaker your cell signal, the harder your phone has to work and the more radiation it gives off. It’s better to wait until you have a stronger signal before using your device.
  • Avoid making calls in cars, elevators, trains, and buses. The cell phone works harder to get a signal through metal, so the power level increases.
  • Remember that cell phones are not toys or teething items.

Click HERE to Download a document with the American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations. 

“The findings of brain tumors (gliomas) and malignant schwann cell tumors of the heart in the NTP study, as well as DNA damage in brain cells, present a major public health concern because these occurred in the same types of cells that have been reported to develop into tumors in epidemiological studies of adult cell phone users,” stated Ronald L. Melnick, PhD, the National Institutes of Health toxicologist who lead the NTP study design and senior advisor to the Environmental Health Trust. “For children the cancer risks may be greater than that for adults because of greater penetration and absorption of cell phone radiation in the brains of children and because the developing nervous system of children is more susceptible to tissue-damaging agents. Based on this new information, regulatory agencies need to make strong recommendations for consumers to take precautionary measures and avoid close contact with their cell phones, and especially limit or avoid use of cell phones by children.”

AAP recommends Reduce Exposure to Cell PhonesThe AAP has updated their Healthy Children Webpage on Cell Phones entitled Cell Phone Radiation & Children’s Health: What Parents Need to Know. The webpage reiterated children’s unique vulnerability to cell phone radiation stating, “Another problem is that the cell phone radiation test used by the FCC is based on the devices’ possible effect on large adults—not children. Children’s skulls are thinner and can absorb more radiation.”

American Academy Of Pediatrics Webpage on Cell Towers and Electromagnetic Fields

“An Egyptian study confirmed concerns that living nearby mobile phone base stations increased the risk for developing:

  • Headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems

Short-term exposure to these fields in experimental studies have not always shown negative effects, but this does not rule out cumulative damage from these fields, so larger studies over longer periods are needed to help understand who is at risk. In large studies, an association has been observed between symptoms and exposure to these fields in the everyday environment.”

Click here to go to the American Academy Of Pediatrics Webpage on Cell Towers and Electromagnetic Fields 

In 2012, the AAP published Pediatric Environmental Health, 3rd Edition recommending, “exposures can be reduced by encouraging children to use text messaging when possible, make only short and essential calls on cellular phones, use hands free kits and wired headsets and maintain the cellular phone an inch or more away from the head.”

The official position of the AAP is documented in three letters they have written to government officials describing children’s unique vulnerability to wireless radiation and calling on the federal government to review and strengthen radiation standards for wireless devices in order to protect pregnant women and children’s health. In 2012, the AAP sent a letter in support of the newly proposed federal legislation referred to as the Cell Phone Right to Know Act. In 2012, the AAP wrote a letter to the Federal Communications Commission calling for them to open up a review of radiofrequency limits. In 2013, after the FCC opened up “Reassessment of Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields Limits and Policies” the AAP submitted a letter with their official comment.

Click HERE to Download a hyperlinked document with the American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations. 

American Academy of Pediatrics Documents

AAP Healthy Cell Phone Radiation & Children’s Health: What Parents Need to Know

AAP Healthy Children Website on Cell Tower Radiation and Health Effects

AAP responds to study showing link between cell phone radiation, tumors in rats”  AAP Press Release May 27, 2016

Pediatric Environmental Health, Textbook of Children’s Environmental Health 3rd Edition edited by Philip J. Landrigan, Ruth A. Etzel. Chapter 41 , Electromagnetic Fields Oxford Medicine Chapter 41

“More study needed on risk of brain tumors from cell phone use” AAP Press Release, September 25, 2011:

American Academy of Pediatrics Official Letters on Cell Phones and Wireless Radiation

2013 AAP Letter  to FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg calling for a review of RF guidelines

2012 AAP Letter to US Representative Dennis Kucinich in Support of the Cell Phone Right to Know Act

2012 AAP Letter  to the FCC Chairman calling for the FCC to open up a review of RF guidelines

News Reports

WMKY Public Radio: AAP Recommends Putting Cellphone Use on Hold for Children’s Health

WebMed: Children Face Higher Health Risk From Cell Phones

Baltimore Sun: Pediatric researchers suggest potential dangers for children from cellphone exposure

National Center for Health Research: Children and cell phones: is phone radiation risky for kids?

Time Magazine (2012): Pediatricians Say Cell Phone Radiation Standards Need Another Look

CNN Sanjay Gupta: Children and Cell Phones Report

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations are highlighted in this FACTSHEET on children and wireless.