A Possible Association Between
Fetal/Neonatal Exposure To Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation And The
Increased Incidence Of Autism Spectrum Disorders
Robert C. Kane, Ph.D.
February 15, 2003
Recently disclosed epidemiological data indicate a dramatic increase in
the incidence of autism spectrum disorders. Previously, the incidence of
autism has been reported as 4-5 per 10,000 children. The most recent
evidence indicates an increased incidence of about 1 per 500 children.
However, the etiology of autism is yet to be determined. The recently
disclosed data suggest a possible correlation between autism incidence and a
previously unconsidered environmental toxin. It is generally accepted in the
scientific community that radiofrequency radiation is a biologically active
substance. It is also readily acknowledged that human exposures to
radiofrequency radiation have become pervasive during the past twenty years,
whereas such exposures were uncommon prior to that time. It is suggested
that fetal or neo-natal exposures to radiofrequency radiation may be
associated with an increased incidence of autism.
Prior to the twentieth century the only sources of radiofrequency (RF)
radiation were the hyper-low levels of RF energy originating from our sun
and the even lower levels of extra-solar RF noise. It is in this
environment of low-level RF radiation that life on earth developed and
exists to this day.
During the 1940s, primarily as a
result of research and development performed as a part of the war effort,
industry and the military establishment were successful in bringing the
state of RF energy generation to maturity. From that time onward we
have witnessed a broad range of commercial RF energy product applications
including, most notably, broadcast FM radio, radar, television,
public-service mobile communication transceivers, residential microwave
ovens, and the portable cellular telephone.
Initially, the contribution of
each radiating device was imperceptible when weighed against the background
of incoming solar radiation. However, over the span of decades the
number of terrestrial RF radiation sources, now counted in the billions, has
increased to the degree that, presently, the base radiation level is many
thousands of times higher than from solar RF energy impinging on the earth.
proliferation of RF radiation sources during the early decades of the
“radiofrequency age”, the 1940s through the 1970s, humans were seldom
exposed to RF radiation at levels that might cause concern. Since the
late 1970s a number of commercial products have become ubiquitous, which
provide human exposures to levels of RF radiation that are significantly
higher than either of the previous or present background levels.
Research reports indicate that RF exposure levels, typically encountered
from some commercial products, may induce alterations of biological
processes or damage to the genome 1 – 13.
Concurrently the incidence of
autism diagnoses demonstrates a pronounced, approximately linear, nearly
three-fold increase occurring during the last twenty years. “The
question as to when autism begins in any child remains to be answered.
Some studies provide support for a prenatal or perinatal origin for autism.”
14 For several decades prior to 1980 autism incidence
remained essentially invariant; reportedly at about one diagnosed case per
2000 children. Byrd has reported a present autism incidence of about
one per 700 children.
RF radiation sources have become
commonplace in the personal human environment from approximately 1980 to the
present. Operation of an RF radiation source such as a two-way radio
or a cell phone exposes the operator to levels of RF radiation shown to be
biologically active. Operation of an RF radiation source also exposes
others, in the near proximity, to similarly biologically active levels of
electromagnetic field intensities 15.
Some of the known effects of
exposure to RF radiation include cognitive impairment 16, memory
deficit 17, EEG modifications 18, DNA damage 3 -
12, chromosome aberrations 6, micronucleus formation
7, 22, fetal malformation 1, 2, increased permeability of
the blood-brain barrier 19, 23, altered cellular calcium efflux
20 and altered cell proliferation 21.
RF radiation exposures from
residential microwave ovens are, typically, on the order of 1 milli-watt per
cm2. RF radiation exposures from cell phones range from
about 0.1 to 10.0 milli-watt per cm2. Portable two-way
radios provide similar exposure levels. The scientific literature
confirms that RF radiation exposures, at levels more than 1,000
times lower than described immediately preceding, or on the order of 1.0
micro-watt per cm2, induce
significant changes in biological processes or molecular repair mechanisms
gestation the possibility of unobservable embryonic and fetal damage is
increased as mothers-to-be utilize and are exposed to the emissions from RF
radiation devices. Researchers have emphatically reported that an
embryo or fetus should not be exposed to radiofrequency radiation such as
that emitted by the portable cell phone or portable telephone. One
particular reason to avoid RF radiation exposure during pregnancy is that an
embryo or fetus may not be fully protected by amniotic fluid for extended
periods of time due to the natural movement of the embryo or fetus within
the womb. Secondly, the pelvic structure promotes deep RF radiation
penetration and that radiation can be absorbed within the developing embryo
researchers have postulated that there may exist a previously unidentified
environmental toxin associated with the observed increased incidence of
autism. For example, the works of Byrd (California - 1999) 14,
Bertrand 24, (New Jersey - 2001), Taylor 25, (United
Kingdom – 1999), and Chakrabarti & Fombonne 26, (United Kingdom –
2001) clearly support the proposition that the identified increased
incidence of autism has an origin at about 1980: an increased incidence that
has its origin established at the very time the personal RF radiation
devices came into popular use – about 1980. We propose that RF
radiation, a new form of exposure of the human embryo, fetus, and infant,
and an acknowledged environmental toxin under many exposure conditions, may
be associated with the increased incidence of autism. This proposition
is further based on the fact that these radiating products are periodically
and typically utilized in the embryonic, fetal and neonatal environment.
RF radiation is the only known toxin, exposure to which is wholly correlated
with the repeatedly documented increased incidence of autism: now reported
by at least some researchers as greater than 1 per 100 newborn.
Correspondence to: Robert C.
Kane, The Associated Bioelectromagnetics Technologists, P.O. Box 133,
Blanchardville, Wisconsin 53516-0133. FAX: 608 523-6500; E-mail:
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