Are women using e-cigarettes during preconception and/or pregnancy?

A new study reveals worrying and surprising findings of women's use of e-cigarettes during pregnancy. 

Woman blowing smoke.

Study reveals that low-income women use electronic cigarettes during pregnancy. / Photo: Unsplash – Alessandro Zambon

EurekAlert | Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News

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A new study of 1,365 racially/ethnically diverse, low-income pregnant women found that 4% reported e-cigarette use. White non-Hispanic women were more likely to use e-cigarettes compared to women who used conventional cigarettes or reported no tobacco product use, according to an article published in Journal of Women's Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. Click here to read the full-text article on the Journal of Women's Health website through April 16, 2020.

The study entitled "Electronic Cigarette Use During Preconception and/or Pregnancy: Prevalence, Characteristics, and Concurrent Mental Health Conditions" also found that nearly one-third of women who reported e-cigarette use had symptoms of depression in pregnancy, which was 4 times that of women who reported no tobacco product use and 2 times that of women who used conventional cigarettes.

The long-term health effects of e-cigarettes are not known. However, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is known to be a harmful reproductive and developmental agent. The coauthors of this study were L. G. Rollins, PhD and colleagues from The Miriam Hospital, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, School of Public Health of Brown University, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also read: Babies born prematurely can catch up their immune systems

Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women's Health and Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women's Health, Richmond, VA, states: "E-cigarette use has not been shown to be safe during preconception and/or pregnancy, and screening for any type of tobacco product use is recommended. Not only can screening lead to cessation efforts, but Rollins et al. show that women who report e-cigarette use during pregnancy also have a greater likelihood of depressive symptoms, severe mental health conditions, and substance abuse."

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