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Could mom's cellphone change baby's behaviour?

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Morning Radar: Three things we're talking about this morning

The list of things pregnant women have to fret about just got longer: A new study may suggest being wary of cellphones. They've been linked to behavioural problems in kids.

Yes, those little hand-held devices may affect children's behaviour.

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Children exposed to cellphones both in the womb and after birth, up to age seven, had a higher likelihood of behavioural problems, such as hyperactivity and social problems, than those with no exposure, according to the study, which appears in the current Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Researchers at the University of California looked at more than 28,000 children. More than 10 per cent of children who had prenatal exposure to cellphones had mothers who said they spoke on their cellphones four times a day or more. Nearly 50 per cent of mothers said they had a cellphone turned on at all times.

Other factors, including a family history of behavioural problems and general inattention on the part of the mother, were ruled out.

As Sanjay Gupta's CNN blog reports, it may have something to do with cell phone use leading to excess secretion of the hormone melatonin, which can then affect the mother's metabolism and may influence the development of the fetus's brain. But this is just a speculation, according to the researchers.

Pregnant readers, how much do you pay attention to ongoing research? Can it all be too much sometimes?

You enroll your kids in sports and that's that. You know they're getting enough exercise, right? Wrong, according to new research from the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Only about one-fourth of children participating in organized sports — such as baseball, softball or soccer — receive the government-recommended amount of physical activity during team practices, according to the study.

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National guidelines in the U.S. recommend children and teens perform 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. In Canada, the current position of the Canadian Paediatric Society is for children to aim for 90 minutes of activity per day.

Researchers at San Diego State University documented physical activity among 200 youth aged seven to 14, who played on 29 soccer, baseball or softball teams, according to a release on the study. Participating children wore sensors that measure physical activity and parents filled out surveys with medical history.

Only one quarter of kids met the 60-minute physical activity recommendation during practice. Soccer is the most active sport in the study, with players active for an average of 13.7 more minutes and 10.6 per cent more of practice time than baseball or softball players.

Boys were active 10.7 more minutes and 7.8 per cent more during practice time than girls.

The little athletes spent an average of 30 minutes being inactive during each practice, authors noted.

"Based on current findings, it appears that youth sports practices are making a less-than-optimal contribution to the public health goals of increasing physical activity and preventing childhood obesity," the study reads.

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So, less time huddled around coach and more time out on the field? Or should kids make up the difference at home with their families?

And there's a new injury showing up in parents. Dubbed "Mommy Thumb," it's actually called De Quervain's tendinitis, an inflammation of the tendons below the thumb down to the wrist. According to this Wall Street Journal story .

Doctors say a combination of heavier children, older new mothers, cribs that are lower to the floor and frequent scrolling and typing on smart phones has sent the number of cases skyward. Hand braces are being prescribed to ease the pain.

Sound familiar to any parents out there?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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