Can you vape while pregnant?

It is important to understand that first and foremost e-cigarettes / vaping were developed as a nicotine delivery system just like cigarettes. E-cigarette vapour is not harmless water vapour it contains harmful chemicals including nicotine.

The US Government Centre for Disease Control and Prevention states that nicotine is a well known health danger for expectant mothers and their babies. It can damage the baby’s brain and is a risk to both the mother’s lungs and the babies lungs1.

The best advice and safest advice is for expectant mothers not to vape because not enough is known about the safety of vaping especially during pregnancy and even juices without nicotine may contain harmful chemicals.

This is the advice given by the US Surgeon General2 and The U.S. Preventive Task Force (USPTF) who recently concluded that “current evidence is insufficient to recommend electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigs) for tobacco cessation [quitting tobacco] in adults, including pregnant women.”

Furthermore, In January 2018, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine released a consensus study report that reviewed over 800 different studies and concluded that e-cigarettes [vaping] causes health risks21.

Read Side Effects of Vaping while Pregnant

What are the side effects of vaping (E-cigarettes) while pregnant?

side effects

The full effects of vaping and vaping while pregnant are still being investigated but the following are a list of the current known side effects:

Mother

  • Nicotine – E-cigarettes contain nicotine which is highly addictive2
  • Lung damage17, 18Read about the potential damage to the lungs from vaping
  • Poison – Nicotine vaping liquid can be poisonous within a few minutes of contact to an adult’s skin. To a child it can be deadly. In 2014 a 1 year-old child died from liquid nicotine poisoning in US20
  • Asthma & emphysema – these can be exacerbated by the ultrafine particles inhaled by vapers11, 12
  • Eye, nose and throat irritation – Volatile Organic Compounds created by heating the vaping liquid and inhaling can lead to this19
  • Headaches and nausea – Volatile Organic Compounds created by heating the vaping liquid and inhaling can lead to this19
  • Liver, kidney and nervous system – Volatile Organic Compounds created by heating the vaping liquid and inhaling can lead to this19
  • Cancer causing toxins – These include Acetaldehyde (MS), Benzene (SS), Cadmium (MS), Formaldehyde (MS,SS), Isoprene (SS), Lead (MS), Nickel (MS), Nicotine (MS, SS), N- Nitrosonornicotine (MS, SS), Toluene (MS, SS)13, 14
  • Cancer causing toxin – Research has shown that heating propylene glycol changes its chemical composition, producing small amounts of propylene oxide, a known cancerous toxin15
  • Respiratory distress and disease – due to heavy metals including nickel, tin and lead16

Baby

  • Brain damage – nicotine can damage a baby’s developing brains1
  • Lung damage – nicotine can damage a baby’s developing lungs1
  • Toxic– nicotine is toxic to developing fetuses2
  • Birth defects –  of the nose, mouth and face3
  • Dull sensory perception and cause hyperactivity in babies4
  • Child behavioural issues – increased risk4
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – increased risk6

In addition experts are concerned that like with cigarettes due to nicotine there could be an increased risk for:

Read Vaping Statistics and Facts

Nicotine-free vaping (E-cigarettes) while pregnant – is it safe?

Some vaping liquids or juices are sold as nicotine free however research has shown that these often contain nicotine23. Nicotine is highly addictive and even if the juice did not contain nicotine the liquids contain chemicals which can be harmful. Read more about the side effects of nicotine vaping.

What is in vaping liquid?

  • Flavourings – There are thousands of flavours all with different additives and chemicals. One that was used until recently was diacetyl. This is used to create a buttery flavour such as used in popcorn, custard and sweet dessert flavours. High levels of exposure to diacetyl can lead to the serious lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans also known as “popcorn lung”. It is banned in the UK & EU but is still available in flavours in the rest of the world7
  • Propylene Glycol (PG) – This is used to create artificial smoke and fog on stage and on screen. It is also an ingredient in antifreeze and is known to cause irritation to the lungs and eyes and may cause issues for people with asthma and emphysema. Pregnant women are at risk of developing toxicity if they are exposed to large amounts of PG because they have lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase an enzyme that is needed to breakdown PG8, 9, 10
  • Glycerin – This has no colour or smell but gives a sweet taste.

Furthermore the vapour once heated contains:

  • Ultrafine particles – these can be inhaled deep into the lungs and may exacerbate conditions such as asthma and emphysema and could lead to a heart attack [11, 12]
  • Volatile Organic Compounds – these are created as a by product of heating the vapour and can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches and nausea, and can damage the liver, kidney and nervous system19
  • Cancer causing toxins – These include Acetaldehyde (MS), Benzene (SS), Cadmium (MS), Formaldehyde (MS,SS), Isoprene (SS), Lead (MS), Nickel (MS), Nicotine (MS, SS), N- Nitrosonornicotine (MS, SS), Toluene (MS, SS)13, 14
  • Propylene Glycol (PG) – Research has shown that heating propylene glycol changes its chemical composition, producing small amounts of propylene oxide, a known cancerous toxin15
  • Heavy metals – these are known to cause respiratory distress and disease and include nickel, tin and lead16

It is therefore advised not to vape any liquid while pregnant.

Is there any risk from second-hand E-cigarette smoke while pregnant?

Vapour is exhaled by e-cigarette users as part of their vaping. The vaping liquid contains many harmful chemicals and studies show using an e-cigarette in indoor environments may involuntarily expose nonusers to nicotine5.

More research is needed but like with smoking it appears that second-hand smoke is a potential issue. Occasional exposure such as when the mother is in town is unavoidable but it is best for them to limit second-hand exposure on a frequent basis.

How to stop vaping while pregnant?

Nicotine is dangerous for the baby and the mother and so it is best to choose a natural method of quitting smoking and vaping – one that avoids any drugs.

There is only one method that is natural, involves no drugs and is clinically proven and that is Allen Carr’s Easyway.

Stop vaping the Easyway

When should I stop vaping while pregnant?

The best advice and safest advice is for expectant mothers not to vape because not enough is known about the safety of vaping especially during pregnancy and even juices without nicotine may contain harmful chemicals.

Final Thoughts

Quitting vaping when pregnant is one of the most important things that an expectant mother can do for her child. The effects of vaping on the unborn child are very serious. Expectant mothers who use e-cigarettes should be given special understanding and care and should not feel guilty for being entrapped and enslaved by one of the most addictive drugs on the planet. Vaping during early pregnancy is extremely difficult to avoid if the mother is unaware that she is pregnant. When a pregnancy is planned it is best to quit smoking in advance of conception. You may be interested in these articles:

Vaping Around Kids – Is it safe?

Teen Vaping & How to Help Teens to Quit

Vaping Statistics and Facts

Can Vaping Damage the Lungs?

References:

  1. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention E-cigarettes and pregnancy
  2. US Department of Health and Human Services. E-cigarette use among youth and young adults: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2016. https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/2016_sgr_full_report_non-508.pdf
  3. E-cigarette aerosol exposure can cause craniofacial defects in Xenopus laevis embryos and mammalian neural crest cells A Kennedy, S Kandalam, R Olivares-Navarrete, A Dickinson Published: September 28, 2017 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185729
  4. Vape flavourants dull sensory perception and cause hyperactivity in developing zebrafish embryos, Patrick T. Gauthier et al. Biology Letters (2020). DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2020.0361
  5. Secondhand Exposure to Vapors From Electronic Cigarettes J Czogala, M Goniewicz, B Fidelus, W Zielinksha-Danch, M Travers, A Sobczak Nicotine Tob Res. 2014 Jun; 16(6): 655–662 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4565991/
  6. Pre‐ and early postnatal nicotine exposure exacerbates autoresuscitation failure in serotonin‐deficient rat neonates S. Lee, C. Sirieix, E Nattie, A. Li The Journal of Physiology 15 July 2018 https://doi.org/10.1113/JP275885
  7. NHS: Flavouring found in e-cigarettes linked to ‘popcorn lung’ https://www.nhs.uk/news/heart-and-lungs/flavouring-found-in-e-cigarettes-linked-to-popcorn-lung/
  8. A review of the comparative mammalian toxicity of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol J S LaKind 1, E A McKenna, R P Hubner, R G Tardiff Crit Rev Toxicol. 1999 Jul;29(4):331-65. doi: 10.1080/10408449991349230 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10451263/
  9. A toxicological review of the propylene glycols J Fowles, M Banton, L Pottenger Crit Rev Toxicol 2013 Apr;43(4):363-90. doi: 10.3109/10408444.2013.792328 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23656560/
  10. Propylene Glycol Toxicity in Children T. Lim, R. Poole, and N. Pageler, J Pediatr Pharmacol Therv.19(4); Oct-Dec 2014PMC4341412 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4341412/
  11. Fuoco, F.C.; Buonanno, G.; Stabile, L.; Vigo, P., “Influential parameters on particle concentration and size distribution in the mainstream of e-cigarettes,” Environmental Pollution 184: 523-529, January 2014.
  12. Grana, R; Benowitz, N; Glantz, S. “Background Paper on E-cigarettes,” Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco and WHO Collaborating Center on Tobacco Control. December 2013.
  13. Goniewicz, M.L.; Knysak, J.; Gawron, M.; Kosmider, L.; Sobczak, A.; Kurek, J.; Prokopowicz, A.; Jablonska-Czapla, M.; Rosik-Dulewska, C.; Havel, C.; Jacob, P.; Benowitz, N., “Levels of selected carcinogens and toxicants in vapour from electronic cigarettes,” Tobacco Control [Epub ahead of print], March 6, 2013.
  14. Williams, M.; Villarreal, A.; Bozhilov, K.; Lin, S.; Talbot, P., “Metal and silicate particles including nanoparticles are present in electronic cigarette cartomizer fluid and aerosol,” PLoS ONE 8(3): e57987, March 20, 2013.
  15. Henderson, TR; Clark, CR; Marshall, TC; Hanson, RL; & Hobbs, CH. “Heat degradation studies of solar heat transfer fluids,” Solar Energy, 27, 121-128. 1981.
  16. Williams, M.; Villarreal, A.; Bozhilov, K.; Lin, S.; Talbot, P., “Metal and silicate particles including nanoparticles are present in electronic cigarette cartomizer fluid and aerosol,” PLoS ONE 8(3): e57987, March 20, 2013.
  17. Lerner, C.A.; Rutagarama, P.; Ahmad, T.; Sundar, I.K.; Elder, A.; Rahman, I., “Electronic cigarette aerosols and copper nanoparticles induce mitochondrial stress and promote DNA fragmentation in lung fibroblasts,” Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 477(4): 620-625, September 2, 2016.
  18. Ghosh, A., Coakley, R. C., Mascenik, T., Rowell, T. R., Davis, E. S., Rogers, K., … Tarran, R. (2018). Chronic e-cigarette exposure alters the human bronchial epithelial proteome. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 198(1), 67-76. DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201710-2033OC
  19. American Cancer society https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/tobacco-and-cancer/e-cigarettes.html
  20. First Child’s Death From Liquid Nicotine Reported as ‘Vaping’ Gains Popularity ABC https://abcnews.go.com/Health/childs-death-liquid-nicotine-reported-vaping-gains-popularity/story?id=27563788
  21. National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes Report – https://www.nap.edu/resource/24952/012318ecigaretteConclusionsbyEvidence.pdf
  22. World Health Organisation Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2021
  23. Raymond BH, Collette-Merrill K, Harrison RG, Jarvis S, Rasmussen RJ. The nicotine content of a sample of E-cigarette liquid manufactured in the United States. Journal of Addiction Medicine. 2018;12(2):127–131.
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