Vaping, or the inhalation of vapor from an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), is a controversial topic that advertises many positive health effects. Seen as a healthier alternative to smoking, vaping has been promoted as a replacement to tobacco cigarettes. There are polarizing points of view that claim the extreme harms or harmlessness of e-cigarettes; yet, few of them discuss the effects of e-cigarette use during pregnancy. Should women be encouraged to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes and vape instead?
The harms of smoking tobacco cigarettes during pregnancy are well documented, from higher risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and low fetal birth weight. However, the harms of vaping during pregnancy are less clear given
that they haven’t been fully studied. Early studies suggest that e-cigarette vapors, regardless of nicotine content, can affect nervous system development of a fetus.
Many experts believe that since vaping products can contain nicotine, the addictive chemical in tobacco, exposure to the e-cigarette vapor can harm the fetus. Most notably, nicotine exposure can cause changes in the blood vessels, which the fetus relies on for blood, oxygen, and nutrients. It is believed that nicotine exposure increases a mother’s risk of pre-eclampsia and decreases fetal growth. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women avoid all nicotine products during pregnancy.
Should women be encouraged to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes and vape instead? No. Quitting smoking, and vaping, is the best thing that you can do for your child. It’s never too late to quit. If you are pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant, talk with your doctor about quitting options.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2016). Alternative tobacco products may be just as dangerous as cigarettes. Retrieved from https://www.aaas.org/news/alternative-tobacco-products-may-be-just-dangerous-cigarettes
American Pregnancy Association. (2015). Electronic cigarettes and pregnancy. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/is-it-safe/electronic-cigarettes-and-pregnancy/
Centers for Disease Control. (2016). Smoking during pregnancy. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/health_effects/pregnancy/
Wickstrom, R. (2007). Effects of nicotine during pregnancy: Human and experimental evidence. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656811/