A 4-month-old baby with hydrocephalus intrigued scientists after the child began to experience a shunt malfunction, even though it was just three weeks after the implant. The baby's mother recalled there was an occasion when she had used the iPad close to the baby's head.
This led researchers from the University of Michigan to conduct a study to test the iPad 2 with and without an Apple Smart Cover, which contains additional magnets and is frequently used as cover for the tablet.
The study led to the discovery that the settings of magnetically programmable shunt valves, crucial devices to help drain out excess fluid from the brains of victims with certain conditions like hydrocephalus, can get altered by the Magnets embedded in Apple iPad 2.
The study revealed that while exposing 10 programmable shunt valves to the iPad/cover for 10 seconds at five different distances, nearly 58 percent of the valves showed changed settings at distances between 0 and 1 cm (about 0.4 inches); when the exposure distances lengthened to between 1 and 2.5 cm the settings changed in 5 percent of valves. There were no alterations to the settings at higher distances.
It is important to know that if the valve has dialed to an incorrect setting, it is not difficult to set it back. The impact can turn dangerous only when the alterations in the settings is not known or recognized which can lead to either over draining or under draining.
"If a child uses an iPad, that's OK; they just shouldn't hold it near their head or sleep with it. Routine use should be OK, people just need to be smart about it," researchers advised.