A small U.S. study recruited 316 pregnant women being treated at a University of Maryland outpatient clinic. In an anonymous survey, these women were questioned about their history of smoking, their knowledge about the harmful effects of cigarettes and e-cigarettes, as well as their overall attitude about e-cigarettes.
Coleman-Cowger, the principal research scientist at Battelle Public Health Center for Tobacco Research in Baltimore, Maryland, said, “Our hope . . . was to gain a better understanding of how and how much e-cigarettes are being used by pregnant women, perceptions surrounding their use (including perceived risks of use), and motivations for use.”
The study found that 13 percent of the 316 participants, or 42 women, had used e-cigarettes in the past, however only 2 women said they currently used e-cigarettes daily. The study revealed that 57 percent of all women in the study believed that e-cigarettes contain nicotine, 61 thought they can be addictive, and 43 percent assumed e-cigarettes were less harmful than traditional cigarettes to a fetus.
Though the burning of tobacco creates much of the harm from smoking, the nicotine in e-cigarettes is a health hazard as well and may have a negative effect on pregnancy outcomes. Previous research on smokeless tobacco showed women who used it during their pregnancies were more likely to have pre-term births, low-birthweight babies, and stillborn babies than non-users.
Women who use e-cigarettes during pregnancy should be aware that there have been no long-term studies on the health effects of the vapor. Dr. Michael Weaver, medical director at athe Center for Neurobehavioral Research on Addiction at the University of Texas in Houston, said that nicotine use can lead to heart disease and other heart problems. He went on to say, “Abstinence from all tobacco and nicotine products is still the best recommendation for pregnant women.”