Pregnant women should be looking for ways to quit smoking.
Wonder if electronic cigarettes are a safe way to quit smoking during pregnancy?
The research team at the University of Maryland, US surveyed pregnant women visiting a university-based outpatient obstetrics and gynecology clinic and found that more that 40 percent of expecting moms surveyed think electronic cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. The researchers also found that among the women in the study, 13 percent had even tried e-cigarettes. Nearly three-quarters of the women who had tried e-cigarettes believed they were less harmful than tobacco. In addition, most of these women also said that e-cigarettes could help them stop smoking..
But are e-cigarettes „ safer“?
Misconceptions about electronic cigarettes are common among pregnant women, posing RISKS for both maternal and neonatal health.
Women need to be educated about e-cigarettes.
Nicotine narrows your blood vessels, which means that less oxygen and fewer nutrients reach your baby via the placenta which could affect your baby¨s growth.It can pass from the mother through the placenta therefore exposing a fetus to nicotine. In addition, nicotine is an addictive substance that is toxic to reproduction and interferes with fetal brain development. It may also adversely affect fetal lung development and increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Conventional cigarettes contain nicotine, as well as up to 4,000 other toxins.
E-cigarettes are battery-operated cigarettes that turn chemicals, including nicotine, into a vapor, which is then inhaled, so its a nicotine delivery devices. As you draw on the e-cigarette, the liquid is drawn into a chamber. This heats the liquid and turns it into a vapour, which you breathe in, or “vape”. A hit of nicotine goes straight into your lungs, and is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream.
They usually contain nicotine, water and propylene glycol, but they can contain other, hidden toxins. Propylene glycol is used as an additive to keep food and cosmetics moist. It is also used in asthma inhalers as a carrier solution for the medicine. In e-cigarettes, the propylene glycol acts as a carrier for the nicotine. Propylene glycol on its own and in small amounts is safe for you to consume. Some e-cigarettes contain chemicals and heavy metals such as tin, chromium and nickel, which might harm a fetus.
The trouble is, you can’t be sure which other toxins you’re breathing in, even if the ingredients are labelled. So you can’t know which toxins are reaching your unborn baby. Despite this, it’s very likely to be less harmful to your baby if the alternative for you would be smoking tobacco.
Some e-cigarettes are sold as nicotine-free.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which investigates the safety of medical devices, found problems with the quality and labelling of e-cigarettes, such as containing traces of toxins, including cancer-causing chemicals nitrosamines and formaldehyde, or levels of nicotine in e-cigarettes that were labelled as containing no nicotine, variation in the amount of nicotine delivered, so you may be inhaling more than you think with each puff.
The truth is that e-cigarettes are so far NOT regulated, and you cannot know what kinds or amounts of chemicals, such as nicotine, they contain. There are NO known official studies to test their safety, and the FDA has not approved e-cigarettes as a cessation aid.
Regulatory agencies will have to start regulating e-cigarettes sooner rather than later.
In quitting nicotine during pregnancy you may also consider nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). FDA-approved forms of NRT include nicotine gum, patches, inhalers, nasal spray, and lozenges. There’s not much research about how safe NRT is in pregnancy either. But the advantages of NRT are that it’s subject to strict quality control and is available on the NHS. It is important to consult your doctor before using a NRT product to discuss the risks of using such products during pregnancy These should only be used under the close supervision of a physician.
However, the best advice remains to avoid nicotine use during pregnancy whether the source be cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or NRT. No nicotine in any form!