Dear Bundoo: Do power lines increase risk of miscarriage?

What does your microwave have to do with miscarriages? One mom is curious if power lines can increase the risk of a miscarriage. Is it true? See what our doctor says.

Dear Bundoo, 

I’m the mom of a 2-year-old and 5 months pregnant with another baby. We live in a rural area with a big power line that cuts through our property. I never thought much about it, but now I’m reading that living near power lines can increase my risk of miscarriage and even increase the risk of leukemia in my older child. Is any of this true? I’ve looked everywhere online, and there’s so many websites all saying different things, I don’t know what to believe.

—Out of Power

Dear Out of Power,

The short answer to your question is no, living near power lines does not increase risk of cancer or miscarriage. The energy that is given off by the line is called an Electric and Magnetic Field (EMF). Simply put, as energy is transported through the power line, a portion of that energy radiates outward and into the surrounding area. The farther you are from the power line, the less EMF you experience. Common household items also emit EMF but in much lower doses. Examples include your toaster, microwave, cell phone, and remote control. This type of energy is called non-ionizing radiation, meaning it does not have the potential to cause harm. Contrast this with ionizing radiation that is found in X-rays, CT (cat) scans, and UV light (the sun!) which can accumulate with repeated exposure and lead to an increased risk of cancer. As we live in a country with more sources of EMFs, scientists are continuing to study how EMFs affect the human body. If you are concerned about the level of EMFs surrounding your home, you can call your local power company and schedule a reading. They will come to the house and measure the EMF. The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health and The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences are two great places to find more information about EMFs and other common environmental concerns.

—Answered by Sara Connolly, MD, FAAP, Bundoo Pediatrician

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About Dori Zinn, Bundoo Associate Editor

Dori Zinn is the Associate Editor at Bundoo.


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