More and more people are using electronic cigarettes.  While e-cigarettes are often touted as being safer than tobacco-containing cigarettes, there is fierce debate among experts as to whether this is actually the case.  There is also no evidence that e-cigarettes facilitate smoking cessation.

A recent study suggests that many pregnant women — more than 40% of those surveyed in this study — believe that e-cigarettes are less harmful to the fetus than traditional cigarettes; however there are no studies which have examined the safety of using e-cigarettes while pregnant.

E-cigarettes, just like regular cigarettes, contain nicotine, and exposure to nicotine during pregnancy carries significant risks.  Previous studies have shown that exposure to nicotine increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, and low birth weight.  Other studies suggest that nicotine can affect the development of the fetal brain.  In addition, e-cigarettes may contain chemicals (e.g., acetone, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, benzopyrene) and heavy metals, like lead and cadmium, which may also be harmful to the fetus.

We need to educate women about the potential risks associated with the use of e-cigarettes during pregnancy.  Because many women turn to e-cigarettes as a means of quitting smoking, we must also support their efforts and help them find effective strategies for smoking cessation.

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD

Many Pregnant Women Think E-Cigarettes ‘Safer’ Than Regular Cigarettes (HealthDay)

The Truth About The Safety Of E-Cigarettes (Huffington Post)

Smoking Cessation During Pregnancy: A Clinician’s Guide to Helping Pregnant Women Quit Smoking