The threat to the foetus seems all pervasive, with even something as seemingly innocuous as a computer display screen being a threat. High levels of radiation (including X-rays, magnetic impulses from electronic devices, like computers, or nuclear radiation), can kill cells and damage organs. At low doses, radiation can initiate only partially understood chains of events, perhaps leading to cancer or genetic damage. "Foetuses are vulnerable to brain damage if their mothers are irradiated between the eighth and 15th weeks of pregnancy,' says Madhu Roy, a gynaecologist at New Delhi's Apollo Hospital.
The first evidence of radiations causing mutations in organs came from the Chernobyl catastrophe, which had released the radioactive isotope cesium 137 . The human system cannot distinguish cesium from potassium, a nutrient. Children born years after their parents' exposure showed that they were more prone to genetic diseases.
Yet another study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, USA, made a startling revelation: electromagnetic radiation emitted from power lines and badly handled electrical appliances can have a sinister effect on foetuses. Children of pregnant women using electric blankets, especially in the first trimester, were about 30 per cent more prone to have cancer than others.
Noise waves also irritate the foetus. It has been found that the foetus responds with violent kicks to heavy rock music and calms down when Mozart or Vivaldi is played. Since the inner ear is vulnerable to acoustic trauma, very high frequencies of noise may result in hearing loss in the offspring, besides making it highly irritable.