Vaping While Pregnant

By Dr. Annie Macpherson
Updated: 2019-09-14

Can You Vape While Pregnant?

vape

Effects on your unborn child

Studies have extensively shown that nicotine has highly harmful effects on your unborn child, regardless of how it is consumed throughout pregnancy. This means that pregnant women should avoid nicotine in any form.

The concerns about vaping whilst pregnant generally come down to how much nicotine you consume, and whether you are vaping as an alternative to smoking. Nicotine can be harmful to a child’s development in any form. However, smoking is considered even more toxic to an unborn child, as it exposes the baby to many more harmful substances. If you cannot quit nicotine altogether, it is better to vape or use another nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) whilst pregnant, than to continue smoking.

How Can Nicotine Harm Your Baby?

Nicotine will increase your risk of a premature birth.

How Can Nicotine Harm Your Baby

A premature infant weighing 992 grams (35 ounces) in a neonatal intensive-care unit.

Studies show serious, permanent, and potentially fatal impacts on the developing fetus if the mother ingests nicotine.

Complications that can arise if you vape with nicotine at any stage of pregnancy include:
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death [10]
  • Newborn nicotine withdrawal

To protect the unborn child from these effects, women in pregnancy must abstain from nicotine. However, NRTs are still considered a ‘safer’ trade-off, if smoking is the alternative [11].

Effects of Vaping, and Vaping 0mg Nicotine While Pregnant

How to avoid it

Effects of e-cigarette vapor on pregnancy

Very little is known about the effects of e-cigarette vapor on pregnancy and a baby’s development. The compounds found in e-cigarette vapor enter you and your baby’s bloodstream as soon as you inhale, exposing your baby to substances it would not normally encounter during its early development.

Safety of vaping zero nicotine

Early research is not promising about the safety of vaping zero nicotine during pregnancy.

Exposure to nicotine-free e-cigarette vapor caused defects in:

  • the face and;
  • skull of newborn frogs [1].

Maternal mice exposed to nicotine-free e-cigarette vapor had offspring with inflamed lungs and symptoms of allergic asthma [2]. These results tell us that a lot more research is required, before the extent of the damage vaping may cause during pregnancy is fully understood. It is important to remember that animal studies can only show us so much, but with this new research in mind, it is best to avoid vaping with or without nicotine during pregnancy.

Is Vaping Bad for Pregnancy?

Vape unflavored e-juices

How Bad It is

Research into nicotine-free vaping during pregnancy suggests e-cigarette vapor has the potential to affect your unborn child. This means that if you must take nicotine, other NRTs may be safer for you than vaping during your pregnancy.

Conclusion

vaping

The bottom line is:

  1. If you vape whilst pregnant, even nicotine free, you are putting your unborn child at some risk of health complications.
  2. Whether this risk is worth taking is down to your personal circumstances, and whether vaping comes as a damage controlling alternative to smoking or not.
  3. If you’re using e-cigarettes to help you quit smoking whilst pregnant, it’s best to discuss your options with your midwife or doctor.

Sources

  1. Kennedy AE, Kandalam S, Olivares-Navarrete R, Dickinson AJG (2017) E-cigarette aerosol exposure can cause craniofacial defects in Xenopus laevis embryos and mammalian neural crest cells. PLOS ONE 12(9): e0185729
    https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185729

  2. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2018 Mar;58(3):366-377. Maternal E-Cigarette Exposure in Mice Alters DNA Methylation and Lung Cytokine Expression in Offspring. Chen H, Li G, Chan YL, Chapman DG, Sukjamnong S, Nguyen T, Annissa T, McGrath KC, Sharma P, Oliver BG
    https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1165/rcmb.2017-0206RC?rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed&url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&journalCode=ajrcmb

  3. Effects of nicotine during pregnancy: human and experimental evidence. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2007;5(3):213-22.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656811/

  4. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention – Tobacco Use and Pregnancy – How Does Smoking During Pregnancy Affect My Baby? (Accessed 29/10/18)
    https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/tobaccousepregnancy/index.htm

Dr. Annie Macpherson
Dr. Annie Macpherson

Annie has a PhD in Genome Stability from the University of Sussex. She has first-hand experience in cancer and human disease research. This allows her to provide us with new and unbiased insights into the ongoing research of the public and health effects of vaping. She loves an adventure, and has travelled through South East Asia and Australia working for Vaping Insider.