(EndPlay Staff Reports) - Though it might not be time to ditch one of your favorite conveniences just yet, new evidence suggests that electromagnetic fields (EMF) such as those emitted by microwave ovens may increase pediatric asthma.
In a first of its kind study, researchers from Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., documented 801 pregnant women and their exposure to EMFs. They found that the rate of asthma among children born to mothers who had the highest daily exposure to electromagnetic fields was more than three times higher than in children born to women with the lowest exposure, TIME reported.
Wearing a small meter for 24 hours, each woman kept track of her exposure to low-frequency magnetic fields such as microwaves, vacuum cleaners, fluorescent light bulbs and copy machines.
Researchers then followed the children – keeping track via electronic medical records – over a period of 13 years.
The study found that 130 of the children born to these mothers developed asthma, with most being diagnosed by the age of 5, reported Bloomberg.com .
"Previous studies have shown that magnetic field exposure can lead to miscarriages, poor semen quality and immune disorders," De-Kun Li, lead study author, told Bloomberg. "Pregnant women need to try to limit their exposure to known magnetic field sources and keep their distance when they are in use."
Details of the study were unveiled earlier this week in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
"That's a striking figure," David Savitz, a professor of community health and obstetrics and gynecology at Brown University told WebMD. "That magnitude of association we don't see very often. If it was correct, and that's a big 'if,' that would be really startling."
But Savitz, who has studied the health effects of electromagnetic fields but was not involved in this study, cautioned against forming conclusions too quickly.
"This has been very, very thoroughly studied, and it really is questionable whether it causes any health effects at any reasonable level. It's certainly not something that falls into the category of a known hazard," he said.
Read more at MyFoxLA.