Should pregnant women use induction hobs?

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“My doctor told me not to buy an induction cooktop while I was pregnant,” the panelist told the group. The comment in a closed conversation about the Zoom kitchen industry was unrelated to the subject of the call, but it did fit into the conception of well-being, one of its related themes. This did not elicit a response from the other panelists and the conversation continued.

A subsequent web search did not make media headlines about the dangers of induction for pregnant women, as the risks of pacemakers did when cooking technology made its reintroduction. in the 2000s.

Induction advantages

Induction cooking is based on the magnetic conductivity between the burner and a pot or pan, and is considered to be safer, more energy efficient, and faster than gas or electricity. With California’s long-term desire to phase out residential gas use by 2045, induction is a likely successor for serious home chefs. Professional chefs are already embracing its capabilities, as this piece in Catering and Hospitality sharing.

Induction is also a boon for busy parents who want to get dinner on the table faster during school evenings. But is this a risk for future mothers? Health experts have weighed in on the response – and with an update for pacemaker patients.

Context of concern

“The idea behind a theoretical risk of induction cooktops is that this technology uses electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation, similar to that used in microwaves or electric heaters,” says Dr. Rashmi Kudesia, endocrinologist of reproduction, certified obstetrician / gynecologist. a Healthy women Member of the Advisory Council on Women’s Health.

“The concern is that the electromagnetic waves propagate beyond the cooktop, probably within a few feet, and therefore a pregnant woman could expose herself and her fetus to this radiation. Especially since the cooktops would hit approximately at the level of the abdomen, it would appear that the abdomen of the pregnant woman is generally in the range of these EMF waves. This certainly seems to be a possible consideration for the panelist’s physician.

Kudesia adds: “From my perspective, and from the studies published to date, this is a concept that remains in the category of ‘theoretical risk’, which means one could see how it might. have an impact, but it has never been shown to do so. . ”

Scientific data

When asked if there were any known cases of pregnant women or their babies being injured by induction technology, the doctor replied, “No, there are no such cases, and the data published to date are reassuring (see: here, here and here).

In response to the possible risks of sterilization or other reproductive harm due to induction technology, Kudesia responds, “No, there is no such risk which has been theorized or supported by scientific observations or studies. companies to date. “

She adds: “I would say that while there is a potential health risk from the electromagnetic waves generated by induction cooktops, cumulative exposure to adults over decades would be as worrying, if not greater, than the period. gestation. “

Hugh Taylor, MD, president of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the Yale School of Medicine agrees: “All high-power electronic devices create electromagnetic fields. Induction stoves do. But there is no evidence that it is harmful. There is no good evidence to support this.

Concerns about pacemakers

When induction cooking first appeared in the mid-2000s, many headlines made headlines about its potential risks to pacemaker users. This concern was also addressed by Tahmeed Contractor, MD, a cardiologist at the International Heart Institute at Loma Linda University.

As with pregnancy, the risks here are theoretical, he says: “Induction cookers can produce an electromagnetic field and, in theory, can potentially activate a ‘magnetic response’ that temporarily alters the functionality of these devices. During his years of practice, he reports, he has had no reports of interference with a pacemaker (or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator) from his patients, or in any of his professional publications. , concerning induction cooking.

“Although there have been reports of interference previously, in a 2005 evaluation in Switzerland, 19 patients with implantable automatic defibrillators were studied for interference with induction. Despite placing the pot in different positions, increasing cooking levels, and even having patients touching the pot, there was no evidence of interference observed on automatic implantable defibrillators. It’s very reassuring, ”he concludes.

The cardiologist also cites medical device companies giving specific recommendations on their websites, including this one: “St. Jude Medical does not anticipate interference between induction ovens and St. Jude Medical heart implants under operating conditions. normal. Additionally, patients have used induction ovens with no reported side effects. “

Industry catch

Induction technology is not new (and is, in fact, about half a century ahead of pacemakers). The first patents were issued in the early 1900s and product debuts arrived in the 1930s, 1950s and 1970s by some of the biggest brands. None seemed to really touch buyers. Fast forward to a new millennium and owners started to take an interest in it.

Perhaps it has to do with greater comfort with technology, concerns about durability or just the sleek styling of these products, but the market has since taken off. KBV Research points out that smart home adoption is one of the drivers of a 5.1% average compound growth rate in induction sales between 2017 and 2023. “The growing adoption of smart kitchen appliances innovations have contributed to the growth of the domestic induction cooktop market, ”the group says. .

The National Kitchen & Bath Association, one of the leading trading groups in this space, shows that induction overtakes electric cooktops in popularity and is three percentage points behind gas in its 2021 Design Trends report. (California’s plans will likely overtake gas induction over the next two decades, given the size of its market.)

Are kitchen designers or educators concerned about the possible fetal risks of induction? “I heard from two of our teachers who are certified designers with years of experience, but neither of them was aware of any concerns about pregnant women using an induction cooktop.” replied Natalia Worden, academic director of the Design Institute of San Diego. Some design professionals are still concerned about the use of pacemakers (as seen in industry conversations online), but it’s often because of the lack of access to the latest research.

Final thoughts

OB / Gyn Kudesia sums up the concerns about induction cooking among pregnant women this way: “I would say that in general there are much greater risks in the environment that are known to be harmful during pregnancy, some that we can not control, like air pollution. , and others we can, like choosing to eat well and exercise. I would generally say this is an area of ​​theoretical concern that I wouldn’t be significantly concerned about. “


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