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

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.

The AAP issued the following cell phone safety tips specifically 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.

“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.”

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.”

Since 2012, the AAP has supported the Federal Cell Phone Right to Know Legislation and has written to the FCC calling on the federal government to review and strengthen radiation standards for wireless devices in an effort to protect children’s health.

American Academy of Pediatrics Documents on Cell Phones

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

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

September 25, 2011: American Academy of Pediatrics News: More study needed on risk of brain tumors from cell phone use

2012 AAP Letter in Support of the Cell Phone Right to Know Act

2013 AAP Letter to the FCC calling for a review of RF guidelines

Recent News Reports on Children and Cell Phones

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?

CBS New Research Links Cell Phones To Health Issues In Children

Sign Up to Stay Informed

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and science from Environmental Health Trust. We email our subscribers with a newsletter just once a month and never share your email with anyone.