Can I vape when pregnant?

Posted 12th April 2015 by Mawsley
Smokers and vapers often visit the POTV forum and ask if it is safe to vape during pregnancy. The answer is not easy to arrive at; the purpose of this article is not to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but to provide some information to help mums-to-be come to their own decision.

WebMD advises that research has shown smoking lowers oxygen in the blood, increases the baby’s heart rate, increases the chance of miscarriage, lowers birth weight, increases the chance of a premature birth, increases the chance of respiratory problems in childhood and increases the chance of birth defects.

The NHS advice is for pregnant women to consider Champix or Zyban during the full term. If women choose not to use that the NHS advise they use traditional nicotine replacement therapy products. There are words of caution for both of those options.

Pfizer claim that any problems associated with their Champix can be put down to pre-existing but non-diagnosed conditions. The problem is that there is a growing body of anecdotal evidence that the pill, which works by blocking receptors in the brain, is strongly linked to suicide attempts; other side effects are noted by the New York Times.

According to the lawyers Motley Rice: “Zyban has been linked to congenital heart defects. Congenital heart defects affect approximately 40,000 babies each year, and one of the primary known causes of such birth defects is the ingestion of teratogenic drugs during pregnancy. A teratogen is a drug or other substance capable of interfering with the development of a foetus that can ultimately result in serious birth defects.”

Despite advising the use of NRT products, the NHS news section also warns about potential risks. The study was based on research into the effects on rats, and they point out there are differences between how rats and humans may respond, but they do conclude: “it is unsurprising that nicotine could have adverse effects on the foetus.”

What may be more relevant to mothers-to-be is the result from a study carried out in 2012. In one of the largest trials ever carried out they wrote: “the use of nicotine patches in this setting found little evidence that the treatment helps pregnant women stop smoking.”

The lead researcher commented: “These women had high-quality behavioural support, yet most of them only stayed on the treatment for two to four weeks. This suggests that either they did not trust that the treatment was safe for their babies or that it wasn’t working for them.”

This week, research conducted by the University of Nottingham discovered: “Compared with babies born to nonsmokers, the risk of major congenital anomalies was 12% higher in women on NRT and 5% higher in smokers.”

The news for ecigs follows a similar theme, mainly due to fears over nicotine exposure. CBS covered a new review of the possible effects and wrote: “Nicotine exposure from e-cigarettes may damage the developing brains of infants in the womb, as well as the brains of children and adolescents.”

It should be noted that the source of the review was the American CDC (not known for its unbiased approach to vaping coverage) but broken clocks can be correct twice a day. CBS point out the limitations of the review when they wrote: “it should be noted that most of the studies in the review don't look specifically at e-cigarette use.”

The user can change the concentration of nicotine in vape and Doctor Farsalinos has gone on record to say the rate of absorption is substantially lower than smoking. Some bottles of eliquid caution against use by pregnant women whereas others omit this advice.

After stating that the CDC review was written to give it a reason to make policy recommendations, Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said: “While the use of smoke-free nicotine products is generally far less hazardous than smoking, pregnant women should refrain from using all nicotine products, including FDA-approved products like the nicotine patch and gum.”

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker