Vaping during pregnancy: health risks for a woman and fetus

Vaping during pregnancy: health risks for a woman and fetus

From Muhammad Qasim Butt

A pregnant woman’s lifestyle directly impacts her own health and the health of her growing fetus. Cutting out bad habits, such as smoking is vital for everybody.

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A pregnant woman’s lifestyle directly impacts her own health and the health of her growing fetus. Cutting out bad habits, such as smoking is vital for everybody. It presents numerous serious negative consequences for both mother and baby. Since vaping is a popular alternative to smoking and is said to be safer, many women want to know whether they can vape while expecting a child.

Smoking and Pregnancy Mustn’t Go Hand in Hand

It’s a well-known fact that tobacco smoking is a cause of many diseases, including different types of cancer, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. But while this knowledge isn’t a strong motivation to quit, pregnancy encourages 46% of smoking women to break their habit directly before or during pregnancy. A switch to electronic cigarettes that are filled with vape juice flavors instead of tobacco is becoming a favorite way of replacing a smoking habit.

Women quit because they understand the importance of staying healthy. They feel and take responsibility for their unborn baby. Smoking during pregnancy is linked to a wide variety of complications:

  • ectopic pregnancy

  • miscarriage

  • problems with the placenta

  • maternal thyroid function impairment

  • fetal growth restriction

  • congenital disabilities

  • preterm delivery

  • stillbirth.

Babies whose mothers smoked while pregnant are at increased risks of:

  • low birth weight

  • asthma and other respiratory diseases

  • baby colic

  • ear infections

  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Vaping is Less Harmful than Smoking

A tobacco cigarette contains up to 4000 (7000 according to some resources) toxins, including about 70 cancer-causing chemicals, so-called carcinogens. One of the primary ingredients is nicotine, a highly addictive substance.

Any e liquid recipe contains propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerine (VG), nicotine and flavorings. Some e-liquids don’t contain nicotine.

Unfortunately, we cannot argue that vaping is 100% safe for people in general, and women in maternal condition specifically. Currently, the most favorable research result is provided by the Public Health England that claimed that electronic cigarettes were 95% safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes. One study published in the journal Tobacco Control reveals that vaping at reasonable power levels poses less than 1% the cancer risk of inhaling tobacco smoke.

Some research found out that when e-liquid is heated to a high temperature, harmful chemicals, like formaldehyde and nitrosamines, may form. However, it’s a relatively new phenomenon, and a good deal of research needs to be done.

Vaping and Pregnancy: Possible Risks and Benefits

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 40% of pregnant women think that electronic cigarettes are less hazardous than combustible cigarettes, even though 57% of the participating women know that e-liquids have nicotine in them. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that only 33% of the woman think that an e-cigarette is addictive.

For sure, the perception that vape products are a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes is correct. But it’s not the only reason for their popularity. It’s used as a smoking cessation aid. The results of surveys are entirely different. Some ex-smokers report that vaping helped them to cut down the number of cigarettes smoked or quit tobacco completely. Others found it ineffective.

One study that focused on e-cigarettes use before and during pregnancy has come to the next conclusion: vaping is a top choice of struggling smoking females. 15% of participants reported previous use of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, which exceeds the use of any FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies. 14% of participants used vaporizers during pregnancy, mainly as a quitting tool.

But how dangerous it can be for an unborn baby? Nicotine in any form puts expecting mothers at significant health risks. At present, the consequences of inhaling secondhand vapor aren't well-known.

Experts say it narrows blood vessels and impedes oxygen and nutrition flow to the fetus. It can negatively affect the fetal brain and lung development. One recent study claims that vaping during pregnancy increases a baby’s chance to develop asthma. The consequences may also include premature delivery and low birth weight, and some of the health issues that are highly ranked for babies deaths.

What about zero-nicotine vape flavors? As it has been already mentioned, vaping has only 5% the risks of smoking. Moreover, the scientists from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center warn that you cannot always trust what you read on vape labels. They studied the consistency of labeled nicotine content in e-cigarettes and proved that some e-juices, marked as nicotine-free, had small amounts of nicotine. They were most likely produced by some companies with a dubious reputation. Experienced vapers know that the best vape juice won’t comprise any undesirable elements.

Doctor’s Recommendations for Pregnant Women

Experts insist that pregnant women should limit their exposure to tobacco smoke and even e-cig vapor. Here're the ways to accomplish that:

  • avoiding all nicotine products

  • making your house and car a no smoking zone

  • asking people not to smoke or vape around you

  • visiting those public places where smoking or vaping is banned

  • in case of a visit to someone who smokes inside, socializing outside may help.

Vaping May Not Be Totally Safe but It’s a Better Choice When Smoking Is the Other Option

Some women find it extremely difficult to quit even when they are expecting for a baby. And they are desperately searching for a way to protect their child from the risks.

There’s very little information on the effects of vaping during pregnancy. What we know for sure that vaping isn’t as dangerous to a fetus as smoking is.

If a pregnant woman has to choose the lesser of two evils, she’d better choose to vape. But she also should remember that nicotine can do harm to the fetus. It’s best to buy a premium vape juice which is nicotine-free.

Note that no one suggests a pregnant woman should take up vaping for leisure. But a heavy smoker who is unable to break the habit would benefit by switching to the safer alternative, as would her baby.

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