Study warns on e-cigarettes and pregnancy

E-cigarettes might not be a safer alternative to smoking during pregnancy, researchers at Durham University have found.

The study – believed to be the first of its kind – found that babies of mothers who smoked e-cigarettes during pregnancy displayed similar abnormal reflexes to infants whose mothers smoked traditional cigarettes.

Abnormal reflexes can include a baby not grasping a finger with their hand or not being startled if the hand supporting their head is suddenly removed.

Researchers said the findings had important implications for policy guidelines, and further investigation was needed.

The study looked at the outcomes of 83 one-month-old babies including 44 born to mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy, 29 who smoked cigarettes and ten who smoked e-cigarettes.

Lead author Suzanne Froggatt, a PhD researcher at the university, said: “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.

“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, more investigation is needed.”

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