Vaping & Pregnancy: Is it Safe?

The phenomenon of “vaping” has increased. With the persistent emphasis to quit smoking, people have turned to vaping as an alternative to cigarettes or as a way to wean themselves off cigarettes and minimize the effects of possible withdrawal. Electronic cigarettes (E-cigs), vape pens, or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) heat a liquid containing small amounts of nicotine, flavoring, propylene glycol or other additives to an aerosol that is inhaled through a mouthpiece. In addition, the aerosol can also contain other, equally harmful, materials such as nickel, tin, lead, ethylene glycol or glycerol. E-cigarette use and smoking have been found in research to both be addictive and the levels of chemicals in e-cigarettes can be higher than if burning tobacco. The E-cigarette aerosol, then, is harmful to both the user and the people that are in their immediate environment.

The use of e-cigarettes and vaping pens has been associated with several health issues. E-cigarettes and vaping pens allow ultrafine particles of chemicals to be inhaled deep into the lungs, leading to flare ups of asthma or shortness of breath. The chemicals within the e-cigarettes or vape pens can lead to lung scarring; diacetyl, for example, a chemical used in flavorings, can cause bronchiolitis obliterans that permanently damages lung tissue. Organ damage to the brain and heart, increased blood pressure and narrowed arteries are also possible. A newer condition identified, e-cigarette or vaping product-associated lung injury (EVALI), is a serious disease caused by the various vaping chemicals that leads to persistent coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pain that can be fatal. Within the environment, fires or explosions have occurred due to the batteries in vaping devices, and burns sustained by the users from issues with the heating element or improper use. People who have tried e-cigarettes as an alternative to traditional cigarette smoking often revert back to cigarette smoking. Regardless of a person using e-cigarettes or traditional cigarettes, there is a danger with secondhand exposure to nicotine or any of the other harmful substances by the people around someone who is vaping or smoking.

Vaping, like cigarette smoking, is discouraged in pregnancy and should not be used as an alternative to cigarette smoking or as a method of smoking cessation. Nicotine permanently damages a baby’s developing brain, lungs, heart and immune system. Unborn babies exposed to cigarette smoke or vaping aerosol are more likely to be born prematurely, have low birth weight, or die during pregnancy or at birth. For children, passive smoking increases a child’s risk of lung diseases, health problems, or early death.

The evidence is clear: Pregnant women should avoid cigarette smoking and vaping for multiple reasons and is, therefore, not safe. Vaping, for me, is a No!

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