E-cigarettes

INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO ARE THINKING OF USING, ARE USING, OR HAVE USED E-CIGARETTES DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

The information provided below is for readers based in the United States of America. Readers outside of the United States of America should seek the information from local sources.

What are e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes (known formally as electronic cigarettes) are devices that heat a liquid to create an aerosol containing nicotine for delivery into the bloodstream by way of the lungs similar to standard (combusted) tobacco cigarettes, but without also exposing the user to numerous other substances found in regular tobacco, including hundreds of cancer-causing agents (carcinogens). Lacking these other substances, e-cigarettes are perceived by many, including some parents-to-be, as a relatively safe alternative to standard cigarettes. This perception is widespread partly because the e-cigarettes are marketed to young people and enhanced with chocolate, cherry, apple, candy, and other flavors. However, the nicotine itself can still be very harmful and addictive. Using e-cigarettes is commonly called “vaping”.

Is there a safe amount of e-cigarette that I can use during pregnancy?

No. Based on what is known thus far, no amount of nicotine is thought to be safe during pregnancy. Consequently, public health authorities are calling for new research to look specifically at the problem of e-cigarette usage by pregnant women.

Can nicotine use make it harder for me to get pregnant?

Possibly. Use of tobacco, both by mothers and fathers, is associated with and increased amount of time to become pregnant. While tobacco contains many different harmful chemical compounds, there is strong evidence that its the nicotine in tobacco, and a product of the breakdown of nicotine called cotinine thats affecting couples ability to get pregnant.

Can e-cigarette use cause a miscarriage?

Yes. Maternal use of nicotine increases the risk of spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) as well as low birth weight and preterm birth.

Can e-cigarette use during my pregnancy cause a birth defect?

Children exposed to nicotine before and after birth carry an elevated risk of numerous problems throughout life including in the brain, cardiovascular system, respiratory system (including sudden infant death syndrome [SIDS]), reproductive system, and endocrine system. They are at risk for poor school performance and behavioral problems such as aggressive behavior, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They also are more likely than other children to struggle with substance abuse. 

Are there long-term consequences to my baby from my e-cigarette use use?

Children exposed to nicotine before and after birth carry an elevated risk of numerous problems throughout life including in the brain, cardiovascular system, respiratory system (including sudden infant death syndrome [SIDS]), reproductive system, and endocrine system. They are at risk for poor school performance performance and behavioral problems, such as aggressive behavior, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They also are more likely than other children to struggle with substance abuse.

I just found out I am 6 weeks pregnant and last weekend used e-cigarettes. Will my baby have a problem?

Although nicotine from e-cigarettes is harmful to the baby, evidence suggests that the risk is the product of repeated exposures. Thus, if you used
e-cigarettes once, your baby is probably not at higher risk, even if that one episode occurred six weeks into pregnancy, a very critical point in development.

Is binge use of e-cigarettes on only some days of the week as risky as using e-cigarettes everyday but at lower amounts?

Both patterns are likely harmful, but with different consequences. Repeated exposure to nicotine is associated with long-term problems involving body systems and the brain, including behavioral disorders and poor school performance. At the same time, maternal nicotine use increases the risk of spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) as well as low birth weight and preterm birth. The risk of these problems is associated with the levels of nicotine, and its product cotinine, that build up in the mothers blood.

Is it ok to use e-cigarettes a little after the first trimester?

No. Children exposed to nicotine any time before birth carry a higher risk of problems throughout life including in the brain, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, reproductive system, and endocrine system. They are at risk for poor school performance performance, behavioral problems, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They also are more likely than other children to struggle with substance abuse.

Can a baby go through nicotine withdrawal after birth?

Yes. This is called neonatal nicotine withdrawal syndrome. The more and the later into pregnancy that you use e-cigarettes the more likely it is to occur.

How will I know if e-cigarette use has hurt my baby?

You wouldnt know for certain, as effects of maternal nicotine use are a matter of risks and probabilities. If you are an e-cigarette user and your newborn dies of SIDS, for instance, its very likely that e-cigarette use was the reason. If you used e-cigarettes at the beginning of pregnancy and then quit and then the birth weight of your newborn is a little bit low, it would be very difficult to assess whether it was because of the e-cigarettes.

Is there any hope for a baby who has been exposed to nicotine from e-cigarettes throughout pregnancy?

Effects of maternal nicotine are a matter of risks and probabilities, and so a baby born to an e-cigarette user can be perfectly healthy. However, if you do use e-cigarettes, youre stacking the cards against your child.

Can I use e-cigarettes while breastfeeding?

No. Nicotine concentrates in breast milk, turning the lactating breast into a nicotine delivery device. Under no circumstance should a mother breastfeed if she has failed to quit using e-cigarettes or any other form of nicotine.

What if the father of the baby uses e-cigarettes prior to conception?

It is not known whether paternal use of e-cigarettes prior to conception affects the baby, but exposure of the mother to secondhand vapor potentially can have the same effects as maternal use of e-cigarettes if she is around the father frequently when he uses the e-cigarettes.

Resources for nicotine addiction and e-cigarettes in pregnancy:

For more information about e-cigarettes during pregnancy, contact http://www.womenshealth.gov/ (800-994-9662 [TDD: 888-220-5446] or check the following links:

 

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General information

It is very common for women to worry about having a miscarriage or giving birth to a child with a birth defect while they are pregnant. Many decisions that women make about their health during pregnancy are made with these concerns in mind.

For many women these concerns are very real. As many as 1 in 5 pregnancies end in a miscarriage, and 1 in 33 babies are born with a birth defect. These rates are considered the background population risk, which means they do not take into consideration anything about the health of the mom, the medications she is taking, or the family history of the mom or the baby’s dad. A number of different things can increase these risks, including taking certain medications during pregnancy.

It is known that most medications, including over-the-counter medications, taken during pregnancy do get passed on to the baby. Fortunately, most medicines are not harmful to the baby and can be safely taken during pregnancy. But there are some that are known to be harmful to a baby’s normal development and growth, especially when they are taken during certain times of the pregnancy. Because of this, it is important to talk with your doctor or midwife about any medications you are taking, ideally before you even try to get pregnant.

If a doctor other than the one caring for your pregnancy recommends that you start a new medicine while you are pregnant, it is important that you let them know you are pregnant.

If you do need to take a new medication while pregnant, it is important to discuss the possible risks the medicine may pose on your pregnancy with your doctor or midwife. They can help you understand the benefits and the risks of taking the medicine.

Ultimately, the decision to start, stop, or change medications during pregnancy is up to you to make, along with input from your doctor or midwife. If you do take medications during pregnancy, be sure to keep track of all the medications you are taking.


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