Well. In case you weren’t worried enough about poisoning your unborn child with the air that you breathe, the food that you eat and the cream that you slather on your skin, here’s something else to keep you awake at night: Radiation.
It seems that all those gadgets that make our lives so fun and fancy are brimming with radiation rays. In some cases, the radiation is part of their functionality (hello, wireless networks) and in others, it’s a byproduct. There’s not much conclusive evidence on the impact of this. But there are, of course, suspicions and worry about the damage it may be doing. And wherever suspicions and worry walk, parents cannot be far behind.
But have no fear! Or, better yet, assuage your fear with a handy new product designed just for this purpose. While I myself will be crying myself to sleep over the 857 times I breastfed my son with his head resting on the laptop, you have the option of doing something about it.
The question is, do you really need to?
That depends on who you listen to. On the Belly Armor website, RadiaShield® makes a strong case for the dangers of radiation from electronic devices. (After reading their materials, I was considering buying some Belly Armor for myself.) The internet is rife with this kind of info if you care to look for it. But unless you are of hardy emotional constitution, I strongly suggest you do not google this radiation business. After what I’ve learned in the process of researching this post, it’s all I can do not to throw out the computer I am writing it on. If I were pregnant right now, it’d be a goner.
“Over the past few years there has been growing evidence that exposure to everyday radiation may cause significant health risks, especially during pregnancy and early childhood. These risks have increased considerably over the past decade along with the prevalence of cell phones, computers, power lines, and other electronic devices.” (from ‘Why You Need Belly Armor’, FAQ, BellyArmor.com)
This is all very scary stuff.
But there are strong voices disagreeing with the idea that radiation poses any kind of threat at the levels we experience it from our electronics. Take this quote from the Discover Magazine blog:
Though many studies of non-ionizing radiation have shown it to be harmless (and in one strange study, possibly even beneficial), not all expectant mothers are reassured by these studies. Laura Riley, medical director of labor and delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital, told TIME her point of view on the product: … products like Belly Armor prey on consumers’ unsubstantiated fears. “There are no conclusive studies that have shown that low radiation from everyday devices is harmful to anyone, much less to a pregnant woman,” Riley says.
Even more confusing is the fact that the Belly Armor product promises to protect the fetus from radiation, when in fact, it only covers a range of the electromagnetic spectrum that we are exposed to. Not to freak you out, but radiation is basically everywhere. Radio waves are radiation. non-cable TV is radiation. Friggin’ light is radiation. Pretty much every electrical appliance you have in your home emits some level of radiation. The frequencies vary, and so do the health questions. With the explosion of cellular and wireless networks, exposure is greater in those frequencies than ever before. (Though your hair dryer may still be a bigger source of radiation than your cell phone.)
So what’s a mom to do? I am the first person to panic about environmental issues and health. In theory, there’s no harm in taking steps to shield your belly from radiation if it makes you feel better. But in reality, it’s not really clear whether these moves will make a difference. And there’s always the risk of losing your mind in the process. The idea of Belly Armor is pretty genius. It’s exactly what every mother wants: armor to protect her beloved baby from the onslaught of threats. But as appealing as the marketing materials may be, the truth is there will always be risks to worry about. If the Belly Armor products came out when I was pregnant, I probably would have bought them. And I probably would have still been just as anxious.
photo: Mad House Photography/flickr