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Electric Range: Friend or Foe During Pregnancy?

Is your kitchen biology conducive to having and raising healthy children? Even low levels of magnetic fields during pregnancy from electric cooktop induction stoves have been associated with an increased risk for miscarriage — plus increased chances for childhood asthma, ADHD and obesity. Knowing your EMF levels in the kitchen is part of planning for a successful pregnancy.

It’s no secret that gas stoves can pollute indoor environments with a variety of chemicals (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrous oxides or aldehydes). Some studies even attribute gas stove use to childhood asthma.

It’s only common sense that an effective range exhaust fan/hood is essential when cooking with gas. Also, opening a kitchen window can provide extra ventilation to help clear the air. For persons who are chemically-sensitive (e.g., allergic to a things such as perfumes, hand sanitizers, detergents, lotions or scented dryer sheets) it may be preferable to avoid cooking with gas stoves altogether if you don’t have excellent ventilation.

So then, Gas = Bad; Electric = Good. Right? Sorry, but not so fast…

Electric ranges, the “green” alternative they’re pushing in the news these days, pose a different set of health challenges. Here is why: Electric stoves are designed with either elements or coils that are directly heated by electricity. Through the process of electromagnetism, induction cooking energizes a metal coil to produce a transference of heat directly into your cookware.

The process of induction, however, creates a concerning EMF byproduct known as Alternating Current Magnetic Fields (AC-MFs). Significant associations have been observed between this type of EMF and unwanted, sometimes heartbreaking pregnancy outcomes.

Can Magnetic Fields Cause Miscarriages?

The flow of current on a conductor produces Magnetic Fields

In 1992, researchers in Finland published a workplace study showing that expecting women exposed to magnetic field levels [>9 milligauss (mG)] while on the job had a 3.4 fold increased risk for miscarriage. Gauss is a measurement of magnetic energy. But what about magnetic field exposures at home?

Ten years later, a California doctor designed an ingenious study and started to get some answers. Researcher, De-Kun Li, MD, PhD, is a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California. In 2002, he published a cohort study of real-world exposure to non-ionizing radiation from AC magnetic fields in the homes of 913 pregnant women using wearable personal exposure monitors. Dr. Li made a concerning discovery: even low level in utero exposures to power frequency magnetic fields were associated with higher rates of miscarriage.

What’s more, the researchers found that exposure to more than 16 milligauss (mG) of electromagnetic energy increased a woman’s risk of miscarriage six times in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. In testing homes for couples, I’ve found that some electric cook top ranges can produce up to 30 mG of AC Magnetic Fields at close range.

Standing further away from a magnetic field point source will reduce your exposure–but exactly how far away should you stand? You won’t know unless you have your electric stove (and other kitchen appliances) tested with an accurate, 3-axis gaussmeter.

To measure AC Magnetic Fields I like to use the NFA1000 meter by Gigahertz Solutions because it’s precise and conforms to the Building Biology Institute’s professional standard.

AC Magnetic Field Exposures Linked to Childhood Asthma, ADHD and Obesity

Dr. Li also found that in utero exposures to more than 2 mG have were linked with increased incidence of asthma in children: every 1 mG increase in average exposure of the mother during pregnancy yielded a 15% increase in asthma rate. Fields of 2 mG and above have a 3.5 times rate of asthma [Li 2020].

In another study, children of mothers exposed to higher levels of AC-MFs had more than twice the risk of ADHD [Li 2020]. According to public health epidemiologist, Devra Davis Ph.D., MPH:

This study showing a dramatic increase in ADHD tied with magnetic field radiation exposure confirms what dozens of other studies have previously indicated in animals. Electromagnetic fields exposure during pregnancy can damage the brain. We place every pregnant woman at risk if we fail to pay attention to these animal studies.”

Increased risk of childhood obesity was found in another study looking at magnetic field exposures during pregnancy. In-utero exposure to magnetic fields over 1.5 mG were associated with increased risk of obesity in childhood. In-utero exposure to relatively high magnetic field levels was associated with a 69 percent increased risk of being obese or overweight during childhood compared to lower in-utero magnetic field levels.

In light of what we know so far about magnetic fields, it looks like close proximity to electric cooktop induction stoves during operation may pose an unnecessary risk for pregnant moms.

Pregnancy and parenthood are wonderful adventures! Yet having taken EMF field measurements in the homes of couples with pregnancy complications, I can say first hand that it’s also a time to be cautious. Discovering ways to reduce fetal and early childhood exposures to Magnetic Fields in the kitchen and other rooms of your home, townhome or apartment is part of wise preparation.

If you’re in Southern California please contact me if you would like to schedule a Baby & Nursery Safe Home EMF Assessment. It would be a pleasure to support your goal of creating a healthy home.