EMF Health-effects Research

Neural and behavioral teratological evaluation of rats exposed to ultra-wideband electromagnetic fields.

Cobb BL, Jauchem JR, Mason PA, Dooley MP, Miller SA, Ziriax JM, Murphy MR,

Bioelectromagnetics 21(7):524-537, 2000

Several investigators have reported teratologic effects of electromagnetic field exposure. The majority of these studies have been performed at levels of exposure that could produce substantial heating of the animals.

New and unique sources of ultra-wideband (UWB) electromagnetic fields are currently being developed and tested that are capable of generating nonthermalizing, high-peak-power, microwave (MW) pulses with nanosecond (ns) pulse widths, picosecond (ps) rise times, and an UWB of frequencies.

Our study was performed to determine if teratological changes occur in rat pups as a result of

  • daily UWB exposures during gestation days 3-18, or
  • as a result of both prenatal and postnatal (10 days) exposures.

Dams were exposed either to
(i) UWB irradiation from a Kentech system that emitted a 55 kV/m-peak E field, 300 ps rise time, and a 1.8 ns pulse width, average whole-body specific absorption rate 45 mW/kg;
(ii) sham irradiation; or
(iii) a positive control, lead (Pb) acetate solution (2000 mug/ml) continuously available in the drinking water.

Offspring were examined for ontogeny (litter size, sex-ratios, weights, coat appearance, tooth-eruption, eye-opening, air-righting, and ultrasonic stress vocalizations). Male pups were tested on various performance measures (locomotor, water-maze learning, and fertilization capabilities). The pups postnatally exposed were examined for hippocampal morphology and operant behavior.

Behavioral, functional, and morphological effects of UWB exposure were unremarkable with these exceptions:
(i) The UWB-exposed pups emitted significantly more stress vocalizations than the sham-exposed pups;
(ii) the medial-to-lateral length of the hippocampus was significantly longer in the UWB-exposed pups than in the sham-exposed animals;
(iii) male offspring exposed in utero to UWB mated significantly less frequently than sham-exposed males, but when they did mate there was no difference in fertilization and offspring numbers from the sham group.

There does not appear to be a unifying physiological or behavioral relationship among the significant differences observed, and our findings could be due to the expected spurious results derived when a large number of statistical comparisons are made.

Significant effects found between our positive-controls and other groups on numerous measures indicates that the techniques used were sensitive enough to detect teratological effects.

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