By Kinza Asghar Khan, PharmD

Up-Dated at 06-Feb-2024

Vaping during pregnancy has been gaining popularity, with many perceiving it as a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes.

However, recent studies have shattered the perception that vaping is a less harmful option, revealing that it carries comparable risks to fetal health compared to smoking cigarettes.

Is vaping vs smoking? What does the science say?

Vapes, also known as e-cigarettes, have gained significant popularity as a perceived alternative to traditional cigarettes. These devices deliver nicotine through inhalation, similar to their combustible counterparts.

While both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes contain common toxicants with well-established harmful effects, e-cigarettes also introduce additional chemicals not found in traditional cigarettes. 

The flavorings used in e-cigarettes are deemed safe for oral consumption, but they have not received approval for inhalation. The act of heating these flavorings during vaping can potentially trigger chemical changes, potentially leading to increased toxicity.

The rising popularity of e-cigarettes has introduced a new population to these unique exposures. Many individuals who were previously unexposed to nicotine have turned to vaping.

The presence of nicotine salts in e-liquids raises significant concerns due to the higher internal dose they deliver to users. This is troubling for two key reasons. 

Firstly, nicotine is highly addictive, which can promote the ongoing use of e-cigarettes and other nicotine-containing products. Secondly, extensive research has linked nicotine to numerous adverse health outcomes.

These effects encompass a range of conditions, including altered immune function, cardiovascular inflammation and diseases, respiratory inflammation, increased airway resistance, and chronic respiratory conditions.

Is vaping a safe alternative to smoking during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, the risks associated with tobacco and alternative tobacco product use are magnified, affecting both the expectant mother and the developing fetus. The physiological changes that occur during pregnancy make pregnant individuals particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of inhaled toxicants. 

Multiple researches have unequivocally demonstrated the detrimental impact of smoking combustible cigarettes on perinatal health. Smoking during pregnancy significantly increases the chances of low birth weight, preterm birth, neurocognitive and behavioral issues, potential long-term epigenetic programming, and small-for-gestational-age infants.

Regardless of the delivery method, be it traditional cigarette smoking or e-cigarette use, nicotine consumption leads to detrimental effects on fetal health.

While vaping may appear less harmful at first glance, the potential risks associated with its unique chemical composition and the absence of long-term data necessitate further investigation.

The primary focus should be on minimizing nicotine exposure entirely during pregnancy, as the risks associated with nicotine consumption have been firmly established.


In conclusion, the risks associated with tobacco and alternative tobacco product use are heightened during pregnancy, affecting both the mother and the developing fetus.

Nicotine exposure, regardless of the delivery method, poses significant risks to fetal health across multiple organ systems.

It is imperative to exercise caution and prioritize avoiding nicotine exposure altogether during pregnancy, as the potential harm is well-documented.

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