Vaping is the use of e-cigarettes and other devices that allow you to breathe in nicotine or other by-products as vapor rather than smoke. Since the compounds being vaped are heated and not burned, the levels of harmful chemicals are drastically reduced compared to smoking an actual cigarette. We have seen numerous studies that say that vaping is a better alternative to smoking, but we will discuss whether vaping and pregnancy go hand in hand.
Although there are not enough studies to properly quantify the harmfulness of vape and pregnancy, there are some studies that are pointing in that direction. Amanda Dickinson, Ph.D, an associate professor in the Biology Department is a researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University and is spearheading research on e-cigarettes and its affects on craniofacial birth defects. Funded by a $2 million dollar grant by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the study was done to educate the public on the dangers of vaping.
Th reason that there are not a lot of studies surrounding pregnancy and vape is that scientists cannot willfully have a study that could endanger the wellbeing of a pregnant mother and her fetus. As such, Dr Dickenson and her team used frog embryos in place of fetus’s and exposed them to saline infused with e-cigarette vapor. Frogs are similar to humans in the embryonic state, so the comparison would be valid. If a foreign chemical distorts the frog embryo, it is very likely that the same effect will occur in a human embryo.
In order to collect the vapor, a machine that was first used to mimic cigarette smoking was modified to simulate smoking. E-cigarette compounds which include nicotine, propylene, glycol, and others are heated inside the e-cigarette during the inhale of vapor. This vapor is then collected in a syringe and mixed with saline.
The findings from the study are that all the exposed frog embryos developed cleft palates which is a birth defect that occur when a baby’s lip or mouth does not form properly. In fact, e liquids that did not have nicotine in it, also affected the frog embryos. When it comes down to different e-juice flavors, tests were done, and the frog embryos did develop clefts with varying severity. While the study did not reveal the actual flavors, there is evidence that defects do occur.
Although, this study was done on frog embryos instead of human embryos, it is difficult to conclude that the same would occur in human embryos. However, the evidence brought forth in this study should give a vaper pause if doing so while pregnant. In fact, there are a lot of things that you should not be doing that could harm the baby. For example, women who have dyed their hair, usually have to go back to their natural color for fear that the chemicals in the dye could get pushed to the baby. Now, smoking while pregnant is one thing that is advised strongly again because the burning of carcinogenic compounds in the cigarette are known to cause health issues and birth defects in children.