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E-cigarettes – also called vape pens or Juuls – are battery-powered devices that heat up a flavored liquid, usually containing concentrated nicotine, that is inhaled by the user. Manufacturers tout them as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes and as a way to quit smoking.
The first study, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), analyzed surveys of more than 3,000 new moms in Oklahoma and Texas. About 1 in every 14 moms said they had vaped shortly before, during, or just after pregnancy. Nearly half of these women said they believed e-cigarettes would help them quit smoking or were less dangerous than regular cigarettes, researchers reported.
The other study, published in the journal Pediatrics, involved interviews with more than 750 parents who smoked and/or vaped. Researchers found that parents who vape – regardless of whether they also smoked traditional cigarettes – were much more likely to vape inside the house and car than parents who only smoked regular cigarettes.
Researchers of both studies said the findings suggest that parents don't realize vaping is harmful to both themselves and those who are exposed to the exhaled vapor, or "cloud."
Here are the facts:
- The vapor from e-cigarettes generally has fewer harmful chemicals than regular cigarette smoke, according to the CDC.
- The nicotine in these devices is harmful, especially for developing babies, children, and teens, experts agree. If you inhale nicotine while you're pregnant, for example, it can damage your baby's brain and lungs.
- Other dangerous toxins, such as antifreeze, have also been detected in e-cigarettes. One study found cancer-causing chemicals, including acrylamide, in the urine of teens who used e-cigarettes. These toxins were listed as "flavorings" on the vape liquid ingredients, researchers reported.
- E-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA to help people quit smoking.
For these reasons, health experts caution against using e-cigarettes during pregnancy. They also advise parents to not smoke or vape indoors, in the car, or other places where children spend time.
If you're looking to give up smoking or vaping, check out these tips for quitting smoking during pregnancy and for continuing to abstain after your baby is born.
And if you need more motivation for giving up the habit, take note of yet another recent study that ties smoking shortly before and during pregnancy to a significantly increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
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