Effects of fetal microwave radiation exposure on offspring behavior in mice


November 7, 2014News ResearchNo comments

“The 9.417-GHz microwaves used in this experiment belong to X-band electromagnetic radiation, which is widely used in space research, satellite broadcasts, communication satellites, meteorology satellites, and especially radar detection. We also investigated the operators’ knowledge of electromagnetic radiation for those working in radar troops via means of a questionnaire about the hazards of and protection against electromagnetic radiation [13]. They generally displayed a state of subhealth, especially in the nervous system and reproductive system, exhibiting well-being issues such as headache, insomnia, drowsiness (sleep disorders) and fatigue; other effects included abortion, infertility, a high proportion of female children, and so on. In addition, extremely low frequency (ELF)-pulse-modulated X-band microwave exposure has been found to increase the proliferation of human astrocytoma cells [14]. It has been suggested that 10-GHz EMF microwave exposure could adversely affect male rat fertility by reducing the availability of malondialdehyde (MDA), melatonin and creatine kinase for sperm production [15]. Accordingly, it has been reported that X-band (8–12-GHz) electromagnetic waves affect the nervous and reproductive systems. Consequently, we experimented on an in utero exposure model using 9.417-GHz microwaves to investigate the effects of EMF on the behavior of sensitive and gender-specific targets.”

Zhang Y, Li Z, Gao Y, Zhang C. Effects of fetal microwave radiation exposure on offspring behavior in mice. J Radiat Res. 2014 Oct 30. pii: rru097. [Epub ahead of print]


The recent rapid development of electronic communication techniques is resulting in a marked increase in exposure of humans to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). This has raised public concerns about the health hazards of long-term environmental EMF exposure for fetuses and children. Some studies have suggested EMF exposure in children could induce nervous system disorders. However, gender-dependent effects of microwave radiation exposure on cognitive dysfunction have not previously been reported.

Here we investigated whether in utero exposure to 9.417-GHz microwave throughout gestation (Days 3.5-18) affected behavior, using the open field test (OFT), elevated-plus maze (EPM), tail suspension test (TST), forced swimming test (FST) and Morris water maze (MWM).

We found that mice showed less movement in the center of an open field (using the OFT) and in an open arm (using the EPM) after in utero exposure to 9.417-GHz radiation, which suggested that the mice had increased anxiety-related behavior. Mice demonstrated reduced immobility in TST and FST after in utero exposure to 9.417-GHz radiation, which suggested that the mice had decreased depression-related behavior. From the MWM test, we observed that male offspring demonstrated decreased learning and memory, while females were not affected in learning and memory, which suggested that microwaves had gender-dependent effects.

In summary, we have provided the first experimental evidence of microwaves inducing gender-dependent effects.



Microwave radiation has been reported as producing adverse effects in the central nervous system (CNS), including headache, sleep disorders, anxiety, cognitive dysfunction and neurogenesis impairment in both humans and animals [1–6] …

Some epidemiological investigations have shown that women and children, especially pregnant women and fetuses, are particularly sensitive to EMF exposure [7–9], and neurobehavioral disorders are increasingly prevalent in children [10, 11]. In the developing nervous system, the brain tissue is more conductive than that of adults because it has a higher water content and a higher ion concentration, and young children have greater absorption of microwave frequency energy in the tissue of the head [12]. Therefore, the CNS of the fetus is considered to be potentially susceptible …

Mice exposed in utero to 800–1900-MHz-rated cellular telephone radiation (specific absorption rate (SAR) = 1.6 W/kg) were reported to have impaired memory and decreased anxiety, which may have been caused by altered neuronal developmental programming [9] …

The pregnant mice in the Radiation group received a 9.417-GHz irradiation with intensity of 200 V/m for 12 h from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm per day (during Pregnancy Days 3.5–18) in a shielded room and were treated normally from 9:00 pm to 9:00 am. The radiation source was placed over the cage at a distance of 10 cm from the mice. The average power of the radiation source was 1.93 W, and the SAR was 2.0 W/kg at the location of the mice.

Here we demonstrated that 9.417-GHz microwave exposure to pregnant mice caused behavioral alterations and gender-specific learning and memory deficits in offspring. Both male and female mice demonstrated increased anxiety-related and decreased depression-related behavior. The male mice displayed impaired learning and memory, whereas the female mice were not affected …

Mice exposed to microwave radiation in utero demonstrated impaired memory in the research of Aldad et al. [9], which is partly accordant with our results. However, a gender-dependent aspect of microwave radiation effects on cognitive function was revealed in our study. Our results demonstrated that only male mice were affected in learning and memory, whereas female mice were not affected. This indicated that the sensitivity of male and female mice to microwave radiation in utero was different, which is a novel finding …

In summary, our research demonstrated that fetal exposure to 9.417-GHz microwave radiation led to behavioral alterations that persisted into adulthood. We found that fetal microwave radiation caused neurobehavioral disorders and gender-specific learning and memory deficits in mice, and provided significant targets for neurobehavioral detection. These findings will be beneficial in relation to the perinatal care of pregnant women and improve our understanding of the etiology of neurobehavioral disorders. The increasing rate of behavioral disorders in children may be, at least in part, due to fetal microwave radiation exposure. Further testing is warranted in non-human primates and humans to determine EMF health hazards and to establish safe limits during pregnancy.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25359903?dopt=Abstract

Leave a Reply