Discoveries and Data: Exposures and Risk Factors


Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) are everywhere in modern society, generated by sources as diverse as electric blankets, video display terminals and power lines. Estimating exposure for birth defects research poses problems, however. Significant exposure comes only from close contact, as the intensity of EMFs decreases dramatically with distance. Individual factors (for example, wiring configurations, appliance brand) may also be important.

Despite these limitations, the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program addressed the question: Are electromagnetic fields a potent cause of birth defects? Our studies suggest they are not.

bullet-9952112 No clearcut association was seen between using electric bed-heating devices (electric blankets, mattress pads or waterbed heaters) and neural tube defects or oral clefts. Using devices more frequently, for longer periods or at higher settings did not raise risk compared to lower use levels. ref_book-3434962
bullet-9952112 Living within 150-300 feet of high voltage power lines did not elevate risk for birth defects. ref_book-3434962