Effects of fetal microwave radiation exposure on offspring behavior in mice

J Radiat Res. 2015 Mar;56(2):261-8. doi: 10.1093/jrr/rru097. Epub 2014 Oct 30.


The recent rapid development of electronic communication techniques is resulting in a marked increase in exposure of humans to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). This has raised public concerns about the health hazards of long-term environmental EMF exposure for fetuses and children. Some studies have suggested EMF exposure in children could induce nervous system disorders. However, gender-dependent effects of microwave radiation exposure on cognitive dysfunction have not previously been reported. Here we investigated whether in utero exposure to 9.417-GHz microwave throughout gestation (Days 3.5-18) affected behavior, using the open field test (OFT), elevated-plus maze (EPM), tail suspension test (TST), forced swimming test (FST) and Morris water maze (MWM). We found that mice showed less movement in the center of an open field (using the OFT) and in an open arm (using the EPM) after in utero exposure to 9.417-GHz radiation, which suggested that the mice had increased anxiety-related behavior. Mice demonstrated reduced immobility in TST and FST after in utero exposure to 9.417-GHz radiation, which suggested that the mice had decreased depression-related behavior. From the MWM test, we observed that male offspring demonstrated decreased learning and memory, while females were not affected in learning and memory, which suggested that microwaves had gender-dependent effects. In summary, we have provided the first experimental evidence of microwaves inducing gender-dependent effects.

Keywords: anxiety; depression; gender-specific; learning and memory; microwave radiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / radiation effects*
  • Cognition / radiation effects*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Mice
  • Microwaves / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / etiology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / physiopathology*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Sex Characteristics