Does Wi-Fi Affect Your Baby's Brain?

If your family is anything like mine, wi-fi has become a huge part of your life. In the morning, I check my daily news app while I pour Cheerios for my toddler. At the playground, I write a quick email as my daughter stomps in the sandbox. And right before bedtime, we watch a highly educational TV show on our iPad (okay, the show isn't always super educational). Nowadays, kids grow up surrounded by wi-fi devices, but can this technology impact your child's health? Does wi-fi affect your baby's brain? The answer can get a bit complicated.

You'll pull up a bunch of scary-sounding links if you search Google for how wi-fi affects babies, but you'll also notice that some of these websites aren't exactly scientific. So what does the science say? Well, the findings have been varied. The Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure published a survey article concluding that children are more vulnerable to microwave radiation due to their thinner skulls and that this type of radiation — which can come from wireless devices — is a possible carcinogen. Another study, published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, found that wi-fi exposure on fetal rats impaired neurodevelopment after birth. While animal research doesn't always translate to humans, these results can sound worrying.

Before you toss out your wireless router, however, keep in mind that the research swings both ways. Most laboratory studies conducted so far don't support the idea that radiofrequency waves — which is used in wi-fi devices, radio broadcasts, and microwave ovens — damage human DNA directly, according to the American Cancer Society. You can also breathe a little easier knowing that related radiofrequency levels related to wi-fi fall far below the United States' exposure limits, noted the Health Physics Society.

Because wi-fi is a relatively new technology to the general public, more research needs to be conducted, especially on the long-term effects for babies and kids. To be extra safe, you may want to limit your child's exposure to wi-fi devices, but the American Cancer Society points out that it's unclear how beneficial that will be.

Until more research is done, you'll have to decide what's best for your baby when it comes to wi-fi exposure, whether that means cutting down on your usage or not. If you're still feeling anxious though, talk to your pediatrician about your concerns. With so much conflicting information out there, a trusted medical professional can answer your questions and help you make the right decision for your family.