Ask any parent and they'll tell you that one sure way to get a perfectly quiet child to start screaming is to make a phone call — preferably an important business call. We all know that kids act up when we're on the phone, but is it possible that the phone itself is somehow responsible for that bad behavior in the first place?

A controversial new study published recently in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found evidence that when pregnant women use cell phones regularly, their children are more likely to have behavioral problems.

To be clear, the study does not say that cell phone use causes behavioral problems in children, but the researchers compared data and found that women who used cell phones during pregnancy were more likely to have children with behavioral problems down the road.

Dr. Leeka Kheifets, an epidemiologist at the University of California Los Angeles, led the study. She and her research team looked at data from 28,000 7-year-olds and their mothers who took part in a larger Danish study tracking 100,000 women who were pregnant between 1996 and 2002.

In the data overall, the mothers of about 3 percent of the children said their children had borderline behavioral problems. The children whose mothers used cell phones while pregnant and who also used the phones themselves were 50 percent more likely to have behavioral problems. 

There are lots of ways that this data could be interpreted. For instance, maybe the moms who spent the most time on the phone while pregnant were also the moms who were inattentive to their kids after they were born, leading to episodes of "acting out" that are seen as behavioral problems. Or maybe the moms who were on the phone a lot were more attentive to detail, reporting temper tantrums and fits as "abnormal" behavior that another mom might not report.

Or maybe, just maybe, the radio frequency radiation affects the in utero development of a baby.  If it's even remotely possible, it's certainly worth checking out.

[via Reuters Canada]

Cell phone use while pregnant = naughty kids?
New study finds links between cell phone use during pregnancy to child's future behavior.