E-cigarette consumption may be just as harmful as traditional cigarettes during pregnancy

Electronic cigarettes may be as harmful to babies as traditional tobacco cigarettes during pregnancy, a new study by Durham University finds.

The study, published in EClinicalMedicine, included the examination of 83 infants at 1-month-old, only 44 of which were born without exposure to smoke during pregnancy.

“Eighty-three infants were involved in the study, either exposed prenatally to cigarettes or e-cigarettes or not exposed to either,” the findings read. “Differences were assessed between these three groups for birth outcomes and scores on the Neonatal Behavioural Assessment Scale (NBAS) at one month of age.”

In past research, prenatal exposure to cigarettes generally led to deficits in neurobehavioral development. In the new study, it was determined that e-cigarette exposure in infants led to similar negative outcomes.

Whether traditional cigarettes or e-cigarettes, its exposure to babies led to a heightened number of abnormal primitive reflexes, in addition to decreased self-regulation abilities and less motor maturity.

“Nicotine can cause widespread negative effects on the central nervous system, subsequently affecting brain development, with animal studies indicating the devastating effects within the brain,” said Suzanne Froggatt, the study’s lead author, in a news release.

“Although e-cigarettes might expose the mother to fewer toxins than cigarettes, given the uncontrolled amount of nicotine in e-cigarette consumption and the effects on the fetus which can be seen post-natally, we don’t believe that mothers should be encouraged to use e-cigarettes during pregnancy,” Froggatt concluded.

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