Naturally, every pregnant woman would do anything possible to ensure her good health and protection for the fetus. As such, if a woman used to smoke, she will consider switching to a healthier alternative once she becomes pregnant. A non-smoker may wonder whether second-hand smoke or vapor from an electronic cigarette can affect their health and that of the fetus.
Every woman knows that smoking during pregnancy can harm the fetus. But, even with this knowledge, some women smoke during pregnancy. Some assume that reducing the number of cigarettes, they smoke every day can help. But, this is still dangerous for the fetus. A common alternative that many women are considering is vaping. But, is it safe for a pregnant woman and the fetus?
Vaping during Pregnancy
Manufacturers of electronic cigarettes purport that vaping during pregnancy is safe. But this is not entirely true. An electronic cigarette is generally a nicotine delivery system. The only thing that differentiates it from a traditional cigarette is that it works differently from the regular cigarette.
An electronic cigarette heats or warms up the ordinary e juice vapor in a compartment called the cartridge. This releases the vapor that is inhaled and exhaled by the user. This liquid is a mixture of chemicals that include nicotine. The nicotine levels vary from one liquid to another, and it can be unflavored or flavored. Variation in the levels of nicotine is the primary reason why some people argue that vaping enables them to quit smoking gradually.
But, because vaping supplies nicotine to the body, it is unsafe for a pregnant woman and the fetus. Unfortunately, research indicates that though people believe that vaping poses risks to a pregnant woman and the fetus, they also believe that it is safer and possibly healthier than smoking. They also believe that it may help with smoking cessation for pregnant women.
Generally, some people believe that vaping is a great way to quit smoking. However, there is no sufficient research on the effects of vaping on pregnant women to prove or disapprove this. What’s more, no nicotine level is safe for a pregnant woman.
So, is Vaping any Safer for Pregnant Women?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that vaping is not safe during pregnancy. However, it may have potential benefits to adult smokers that are not pregnant. No research has conclusively proven that vaping during pregnancy is safe. Many researchers are unwilling to put expecting mothers to potential harm while conducting research.
Additionally, there are many brands of electronic cigarettes and vape juice flavors and it’s only recently that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started regulating them. Until the 2016 summer, it was almost impossible to determine the ingredients of these juices. Vaping products are generally new. Thus, there is insufficient research to prove their safety or the risks they pose to users.
But, what is known so far is that smoking conventional cigarettes passes over 7,000 chemicals to the body of the smoker. These chemicals are toxic and some of them cause cancer. However, vaping or use of electronic cigarettes emits fewer chemicals or toxins. But, reduction in the risk is only in individuals that quit smoking completely and turn to vaping.
However, vaping is not entirely harmless. Vape flavors are typically made of nicotine, flavoring chemicals, vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol. Additionally, electronic cigarettes heat the liquid at a very high voltage. Therefore, some ingredients form other chemicals, some of which may cause cancer.
Research has also shown that refill solutions and e-cigarette cartridges labels list nicotine level that is different from what the products actually contain. What’s more, electronic cigarettes aerosols, refill solutions, and cartridges may contain potentially harmful chemicals apart from nicotine.
Consequences of Vaping during Pregnancy
Since vaping supplies nicotine to the body, it means the fetus is exposed to nicotine. Essentially, nicotine can pass from the mother to the fetus via the placenta and this can have adverse effects on the fetus.
Major among them include:
- Low birth weight
- Preterm birth
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Placenta problems like placental abruption
- Sudden infant death syndrome
- Higher birth defects risks including decreased brain and lung development
After birth, the risks of colic, asthma, and chronic conditions like deficit hyperactivity disorder are higher in children that were exposed to nicotine during pregnancy.
Secondhand Exposure to E-Cigarette Vapor during Pregnancy
Even when a pregnant woman is not vaping, the practice can affect her and her fetus if somebody around them vapes. That’s because research has shown that the nicotine amount that is emitted by electronic cigarettes can be harmful to pregnant women. Additionally, aerosols have chemicals that are potentially harmful which pregnant women can be exposed to.
But, the effects that secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes has on pregnant women are not fully known. Nevertheless, it’s possible that pregnant women are exposed to the same effects that secondhand cigarette smoke has on pregnant women though it may be at a lower level.
Occasional exposure while out in the streets is almost unavoidable. It’s also not something that a pregnant woman ought to fret over. However, if secondhand exposure to vapor from an electronic cigarette is frequent and repeated, it should concern a pregnant woman. That’s why some people recommend the implementation of stricter vaping regulations by the government.
In some countries, vaping is prohibited in places where smoking is prohibited. Such places include restaurants, healthcare facilities, and bars. Some countries prohibit vaping and smoking in all workplaces and areas where children play, learn and live including entertainment venues, sports, and recreational facilities, parks, multi-unit housing, and schools.
The Bottom Line
E-cig juice contains chemicals that are heated and inhaled when vaping. In some juices, the ingredients listed in the labels are not exactly what they contain. Some of the chemicals in the juice can be harmful to a pregnant woman and her fetus when heated and inhaled. What’s more, there are no sufficient studies or data to prove that vaping during pregnancy is safe. Additionally, organizations like the FDA have not approved vaping or use of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation aids even for pregnant women.