Cell Use by Pregnant Women Related to Their Children's Misbehavior? Let's Not Confuse Correlation With Causation

You know when you see a headline like this one that someone is bound to confuse correlation with causality.

Study links cellphones to child misbehavior (Reuters)

The study described is a large one conducted in the Netherlands consisting of 28,000 7-year olds. One relationship noted in the study was: The children whose mothers used cellphones while pregnant and who also used the phones themselves were 50 percent more likely to have behavioral problems. The article notes that the researchers looked at a number of factors (e.g., stress during pregnancy) that might be a factor in this relationship. However, the article does not know if any of these other factors were also correlated. And, you wondered (like me) if the inattention of moms might be the cause, the researcher say it is an important factor but does not explain the correlation found.

If the nature of the relationship is ever teased out, it will probably be complex mix of nature and nurture factors.

Recommended articles