Why Avoiding E-Cigarette Use During Pregnancy Matters
What We Know
Although e-cigarettes may be safer than real cigarettes, they are still not safe. We know that nicotine is highly addictive, is present in unregulated amounts in e-cigarettes, and is easily absorbed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies nicotine as a Pregnancy Category D drug, which means it is considered toxic – research indicates there are thousands of potentially harmful substances in e-cigarettes. Consequently, there are likely impacts on both the mother and the baby, though the extent of these impacts is still being studied.
Before Your Baby Is Born
Effects on Growth
Studies strongly suggest that nicotine exposure can harm the nervous, respiratory, immune, and cardiovascular systems of a developing fetus, especially during important developmental periods.
After Your Baby Is Born
Because e-cigarettes are relatively new, not enough studies have been conducted to understand the full extent of nicotine exposure, separate from the other chemicals contained in tobacco smoke. However, preclinical studies suggest links between nicotine and preterm birth, stillbirth, SIDS, behavior problems, and cardiovascular disease. (1)
An infant who is exposed to nicotine during the pregnancy can experience withdrawal symptoms after its birth, such as irritability, restlessness, and difficulty responding to its mother. Your baby may have the “shakes,” which can make comforting and calming your baby difficult.
Remember, everything you take in can be passed to your baby through your breastmilk. This includes nicotine, which can flavor the milk and limit your baby’s appetite. Nicotine ingestion can also cause your baby to vomit, have diarrhea, be restless, and have a high heart rate.
Even non-traditional cigarettes can expose children, and others, to detectable levels of nicotine. Additionally, the secondary ingredients that are emitted, as a result of the high heat present in the e-cigarette device, may be harmful and contain cancer-causing elements. Children who accidentally ingest nicotine in liquid form can suffer serious, sometimes fatal, consequences.
It’s Never Too Late!
Talk to Someone
No matter how far along you are in your pregnancy, quitting e-cigarettes now will benefit both you and your baby. Contact your healthcare provider.
(1) McGrath-Morrow, S.A., Gorzkowski, J., Groner, J.A., Rule, A. M., Wilson, K., Tanski, S. E., Collaco, J.M., Klein, J. D. (2020). The effects of nicotine on development. Pediatrics, 145(3): e20191346. 10.1542/peds.2019-1346.