Vaping while pregnant is safe for both babies and mothers, rule experts amid growing fears of dangers of e-cigs

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Mothers-to-be wanting to quit smoking can safely indulge in vaping to beat their nicotine cravings without fear of harming their baby, experts claim.

Scientists have long debated the safety merits of using e-cigarettes in pregnancy, with some studies warning of an increased risk of miscarriages. 

But UK researchers now say vaping is safe for both women and babies in pregnancy based on a study of over 1,100 women.

Experts at Queen Mary University of London used data from 23 hospitals and one stop-smoking service that treated mothers-to-be.

Women were given the option of switching to vapes and nicotine patches instead of traditional tobacco products like cigarettes.

A British study suggests vaping is safe for both women and babies in pregnancy based on a study of over 1,100 women

Almost 1,000 serious adverse reactions to e-cigs have been logged by Britain's health watchdog including blood, nervous system and respiratory disorders, as well as cancer and injuries like burns. This includes five deaths linked to the devices. Latest figures show the proportion of adults using e-cigs in the UK increased last year to the highest rate on record, at 8.3 per cent, according to the charity Action on Smoking and Health. This accounts for the roughly 4.3million people across the country

Almost 1,000 serious adverse reactions to e-cigs have been logged by Britain’s health watchdog including blood, nervous system and respiratory disorders, as well as cancer and injuries like burns. This includes five deaths linked to the devices. Latest figures show the proportion of adults using e-cigs in the UK increased last year to the highest rate on record, at 8.3 per cent, according to the charity Action on Smoking and Health. This accounts for the roughly 4.3million people across the country

Of the group, 47 per cent opted to vape and 21 per cent used the patches. 

The study then compared the pregnancy outcomes in the women to see if vaping or using patches increased the risk of adverse pregnancy events or poor outcomes, such as a miscarriage.

Nicotine levels in the participants were monitored through saliva samples taken at the start and end of the study. 

Any respiratory symptoms, as well as the birth weight, and other health data concerning the babies was also recorded.

Professor Peter Hajek, an author of the study and the lead researcher from the Wolfson Institute of Population Health at Queen Mary, said the results suggested vapes could be used safely in pregnancy to help people quit smoking. 

‘E-cigarettes helped pregnant smokers quit without posing any detectable risks to pregnancy compared with stopping smoking without further nicotine use,’ he said. 

‘The harms to pregnancy from smoking, in late pregnancy at least, seem to be due to other chemicals in tobacco smoke rather than nicotine.’

However, the authors of the paper said that while the results should alleviate some of the concerns about using nicotine replacements while pregnant, further studies are needed to verify their results. 

While vapes are accepted as a safer alternative for pregnant smokers, nonsmokers are advised not to start using the devices during pregnancy due to limited research on their safety. 

The authors added that another limitation was the small size of the study, meaning some rarer pregnancy complications could have been missed. 

The study was published in the journal Addiction. 

Smoking in pregnancy is still an issue in Britain, with 7.5 per cent of new mothers in England smoking at the time of delivery, according to the latest NHS data.

This is despite smoking doubling the risk of suffering a stillbirth and increasing the risk of a miscarriage by a third.

One in 10 Estonians now vape regularly each month, cementing its position as the e-cigarette capital of the world. Published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ¿ a forum of 37 countries with market-based economies founded in 1961 ¿ it also found just four countries rank higher than the UK

One in 10 Estonians now vape regularly each month, cementing its position as the e-cigarette capital of the world. Published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) — a forum of 37 countries with market-based economies founded in 1961 — it also found just four countries rank higher than the UK

These risks mean medics are keen to get pregnant women to stop smoking, either stopping entirely or using a nicotine replacement such as a vape or patches. 

However, the NHS has so far been reluctant to dish out the devices to expectant mothers directly.

Unlike nicotine patches, vapes are not available on prescription for pregnant women.

While smoking has universally been accepted to be dangerous to a baby during pregnancy, the impact of vaping has been less clear.

Although widely viewed as safer than smoking, many medics say the overall long-term health effects of vaping still remain a mystery. 

Doctors have expressed fear there could be a wave of lung disease, dental issues and even cancer in the coming decades in people who took up the habit at a young age.

Last year, leading paediatricians warned children were being hospitalised with vaping-induced breathing difficulties amid a ‘disturbing’ epidemic of the habit among young people.

NHS figures also show a rise in the number of children admitted to hospital due to vaping. 

NHS Digital data shows the number of children who are current vapers has soared in recent years, jumping from 6 per cent in 2018 to 9 per cent in 2021

NHS Digital data shows the number of children who are current vapers has soared in recent years, jumping from 6 per cent in 2018 to 9 per cent in 2021

NHS Digital data, based on the smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England survey for the year 2021, showed 30 per cent of children in Yorkshire and the Humber have used a vape

NHS Digital data, based on the smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England survey for the year 2021, showed 30 per cent of children in Yorkshire and the Humber have used a vape 

In October ministers launched a consultation on how to protect children from underage vaping while still encouraging adult smokers to use the devices to quit.

Among the options is a potential ban or restriction on disposable vapes – which are known to be the first choice among children — and if more needs to be done on pricing.

Health campaigners have repeatedly said that offering e-cigarettes for ‘pocket money prices’ encourages children to take up vaping.

Other consultation proposals include restricting the flavours and descriptions of vapes, so they are no longer targeted at children, putting vapes out of the sight of youngsters and regulating vape packaging and how products are presented.

Another consultation suggestion is for on-the-spot fines for retailers who sell to children and greater measures to tackle online sales.

Figures show one in five children have now tried vaping despite it being illegal for under-18s, while the number of children using vapes regularly has tripled in the past three years.

MailOnline previously discovered dupe vapes mimicking Chupa Chups, Skittles, Jolly Rancher, Rubicon and Calypso (pictured), with near-identical branding to the popular sweets and drinks in other stores along Oxford Street

MailOnline previously discovered dupe vapes mimicking Chupa Chups, Skittles, Jolly Rancher, Rubicon and Calypso (pictured), with near-identical branding to the popular sweets and drinks in other stores along Oxford Street 

Prime Candy on Oxford Street, where in April MailOnline found huge vape displays alongside many different types of American sweets

Prime Candy on Oxford Street, where in April MailOnline found huge vape displays alongside many different types of American sweets

MailOnline previously exposed the predatory tactics some sweet shops use to sell e-cigs to kids.

Vaping has taken off in Britain overall with figures from the Office for National Statistics showing around 4.5million Brits vape daily or occasionally — a rise of some 500,000 in 12 months.

While smokers in the UK are encouraged to switch to vapes other countries are trying to restrict the sale of the devices altogether.

Australia recently announcing it was banning imports of disposable vapes from January as it tries to fight off a nicotine addiction in children. 

Meanwhile the World Health Organization has called for called for all flavoured vapes to be banned worldwide and treated similarly to cigarettes.

Everything you need to know about e-cigarettes 

How much nicotine is in an e-cigarette?

There are many different brands of e-cigarettes, containing various different nicotine levels.

The legal amount of nicotine in an e-liquid capacity in the UK is 20mg/ml equating to between 600 and 800 puffs.

The Elf Bar 600, one of Britain’s most popular vapes, is advertised as coming in nicotine strengths of 0mg, 10mg and 20mg. 

How many cigarettes are ‘in’ an e-cigarette? 

The Elf Bar 600 contains the equivalent to 48 cigarettes, analysts say. 

It delivers 600 puffs before it needs to be thrown away, meaning, in theory, every 12.5 puffs equate to one cigarette.

Experts say for many e-cigarettes, 100 puffs equate to ten normal cigarettes. 

Elf Bars are a brand of e-cigarettes often sold in snazzy colours and with child-friendly names and flavours, like blue razz lemonade and green gummy bear

Is vaping better for your health than cigarettes?

Vaping products are considered to be better than cigarettes as users are exposed to fewer toxins and at lower levels, according to the NHS.

The health service adds that vaping instead of smoking cigarettes reduces your exposure to toxins that can cause cancer, lung disease and diseases of the heart and circulation, such as strokes and heart attacks. 

Public Health England, which is now defunct, published an expert independent review in 2015 concluding that e-cigarettes are around 95 per cent less harmful than cigarettes.

However vaping is not risk-free, as while levels in tobacco-products are much higher, e-cigarettes still contain harmful toxins, according to a study by researchers from the Medical University of Silesia in Poland.

And Dr Onkar Mudhar, a London dentist who posts videos on TikTok, said Elf bars can cause gum inflammation, swelling and bleeding.

He said this is because nicotine dries out your mouth and reduces saliva, causing irritation from a build-up of bacteria and food that can’t get washed away.

Nearly 350 hospitalisations due to vaping were logged in England in 2022, which are thought to be mainly down to respiratory problems, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, lung inflammation and, in severe cases, respiratory failure. 

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