Many smoker future mummies quickly jump to e-cigarettes to get help ‘weaning’ off tobacco. But we have some bad news: e-cigarettes and pregnancy are not a good combo.
According to a recently published study, e-cigarettes can have even worse consequences than regular tobacco. Many women start using them in pregnancy because they can be nicotine-free, but there are other negative side effects associated with them that could translate into development problems of the baby.
Let’s take a closer look at the consequences of combining e-cigarettes and pregnancy.
E-cigarettes and pregnancy: How are they different from regular tobacco?
E-cigarettes, also called e-cigs, are devices that give you a dose of vaporized nicotine when inhaling them and that work with a battery. Some of them admit using solutions that are nicotine-free, which is why manufacturers sell them as a healthier option than regular tobacco and an alternative to quit smoking. They also say that they provide a similar sensation to smoking tobacco.
Yes, there is a difference. They don’t contain tobacco, so they don’t produce smoke and there is no actual burning, as they still work to calm the anxiety of the smoker and to satisfy the needs of ‘social’ smokers. Vaping still means holding something in your hand and it maintains that routine gesture.
E-cigarettes and pregnancy: Can we use them to stop smoking?
In some ways, yes, but not at all during pregnancy, since they are still a harmful habit. Experts say there may be some benefits if the e-cigarettes completely substitute the consumption of tobacco, but many of them still contain pernicious substances, which is bad for both smokers and those around them.
Public Health England stated last year that if all smokers changed to e-cigarettes, there could be up to 76.000 less deaths due to smoking per year. However, does this mean that e-cigarettes are harmless?
E-cigarettes and pregnancy: Consequences to consider
If you’re still not convinced that e-cigarettes + pregnancy is something to avoid, let’s take a detailed look into e-cigarette effects on pregnancy:
- Nicotine: Many of the solutions used in e-cigs still contain nicotine, which can affect the baby. This addictive substance can cause interfere with brain and lung development, as well as increasing the risk of cot death or SIDS.
- Toxines: ‘Ok, then. I’ll choose a nicotine-free type’. It seems like a good solution, but we also need to consider that it will contain other toxins and cancerous substances. In fact, recent studies have linked them to cancer and lung damage.
- Behavioural problems: According to Judith T, Zelikoff, a professor in the NYU School of Medicine, the use of these devices may be linked to behavioural problems in the baby-to-be that will appear later on, such as learning and memory disabilities, hyperactivity and even coordination problems. She conducted a study with baby mice whose mothers had or had not been exposed to the vapour of these products when they were pregnant, and found differences in their brains when comparing them.
The consequences of the combination of e-cigarettes and pregnancy are still not clear, since further research is needed to really stablish the real consequence and side effects that they can have. But there isn’t any evidence to state that they are safe during pregnancy either. When carrying a baby, it is important to be extremely careful, and not to expose ourselves to substances the consequences of which we don’t really know.
Professor Zelikoff is not the only expert to advise against its use. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Dr. Patrick O’Brien has stated the following to the Daily Mail:
E-cigarettes are becoming a popular alternative to tobacco smoking, but at the moment what is in them is not controlled and some have been found to contain harmful substances as well as nicotine, as this study in mice demonstrates. (…) As the long-term risks for the developing baby from using them are not known, we do not recommend women use these products in pregnancy.
So, as you can see, for the moment it is better to keep e-cigarettes and pregnancy apart, at least until further research proves that they are harmless for the baby. If you’re trying to get pregnant, the best thing to do is to quit smoking before conception.