If you read many of our articles here at SleepBetter, you know that we’re against cell phones in the bedroom. They can disturb your sleep in a number of ways. Interesting new research is now saying that those same cell phones can actually disturb an unborn baby’s sleep as well!
Scientists conducted a small study that tracked fetal reactions to repetitive cellphone and beeper use among more than two dozen resident physicians while they were pregnant. The findings were startling and very interesting, study co-author Dr. Boris Petrikovsky, director of maternal and fetal medicine at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in New York City, told Medical Xpress.
“We wanted to see what these devices can do to the fetus. And actually what we figured out is that if you’re a baby in-utero [in the womb] and someone wakes you up every hour, you will not be a happy camper. The sound, and perhaps even vibrations, cause a lot of ‘startle reflex’, which disturbs the normal sleep cycle.”
All of the study subjects carried beepers or cellphones in a position near the fetus’ head, and on five occasions the devices were activated to emit a series of rings separated by five-minute intervals. The women underwent ultrasound screening during this time so the researchers could assess the effect on the fetuses.
All of the fetuses were between 27 and 41 weeks of gestation, and all displayed startle response when exposed to a single generated sound. Responses included head-turning, mouth-opening or blinking. When devices were triggered to repeatedly ring every 10 minutes, 90 percent of the fetuses exhibited a similar startle response on the first occasion. Eighty percent of the fetuses continued to do so during subsequent rings, the findings showed.
The study wasn’t able to determine any long-term negative impact on the startled babies, such as fetal health or pregnancy outcome.