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Do not underestimate the risks: E-cigarettes during pregnancy endanger the child
Despite warnings from medical practitioners not to smoke during pregnancy, many expectant mothers keep on smoking. This disrupts the development of the child in the womb and increases the risk of various diseases in later life. What many do not know is that vaping e-cigarettes also endangers the unborn.
Do not underestimate the dangers of vaping
On World No Tobacco Day, the German Society for Pneumology and Respiratory Medicine (DGP) and the German Lung Foundation (DLS) have asked children and pregnant women to be better protected against the harmful effects of tobacco smoke and e-cigarette aerosol. In addition to a comprehensive ban on advertising and the ban on smoking or vaping in the car, the experts are also demanding that parents-to-be be informed about the dangers of e-cigarettes. Because current surveys suggest that pregnant women underestimate the risks of vaping and wrongly assume that e-cigarettes help to quit tobacco cigarettes.
Development of the child in the womb is disturbed
It has long been known that maternal smoking during pregnancy poses a significant risk to the development of the unborn child.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reports that pregnancy complications such as miscarriages, premature births and stillbirths are increasing in smokers.
In addition, smoking of the mother during pregnancy is a central risk factor for sudden child death.
In addition, it also increases the long-term risk of numerous diseases and developmental disorders in children, such as asthma, otitis media, obesity and behavioral problems.
Nevertheless, according to estimates by the RKI, around one in ten women in Germany smoke cigarettes during pregnancy.
However, the consumption of conventional cigarettes is not the only problem:
"Since the e-cigarette is advertised as a tool for a gentle exit from tobacco addiction, we have to assume that pregnant women who cannot quit smoking on their own use e-cigarettes as an alternative," said Professor Dr. med. Robert Loddenkemper from the DGP in a message.
This suggestion is confirmed by a long-term American study involving over 3,000 women who became mothers. Seven percent of them said they used e-cigarettes during pregnancy.
Half of them cited the reasoning that e-cigarettes are less harmful to the child and would also help with smoking cessation. One in four pregnant women didn't know that their e-cigarette contained nicotine.
Even though no figures have yet been collected for Germany, lung experts consider these results to be worrying.
"The study shows that the marketing strategy of the industry that minimizes the harmful effects of e-cigarettes is working," explains Professor Dr. Stefan Andreas from DLS.
The long-term health effects of e-cigarettes have not yet been investigated as well as those of tobacco use. However, it has been proven that nicotine interferes with embryonic development: The consequences include premature or stillbirth, low birth weight and an increased risk of asthma
Researchers also found substances in nicotine-free e-cigarettes that can cause acute inflammation in the lung tissue.
The switch creates a new addiction
In order to protect expectant mothers and unborn children, the DGP therefore calls for better information and offers to support pregnant women smoking cessation.
While many smokers consider e-cigarettes to be a healthier alternative to the classic tobacco cigarette, some studies show that the electric vaporizers are just as harmful to our lungs as normal tobacco products.
And the question of whether e-cigarettes are more likely to induce smoking or help with weaning has not been finally clarified.
"The vast majority of independent studies were unable to show that e-cigarettes help quit smoking," says Andreas. "Rather, it becomes clear that switching to e-cigarettes will create a new addiction."
No smoking in the car
To protect pregnant women and children, the DGP and DLS also call for a ban on smoking in closed rooms and cars, as is the case in other countries.
Even smoking a cigarette or e-cigarette leads to a high concentration of various pollutants such as fine dust, nicotine, propylene glycol and acetone, which can cause chronic respiratory diseases in children.
"Last but not least, children must also be protected by an extensive ban on advertising for tobacco and e-cigarettes," says Loddenkemper.
Research has shown that one in ten adolescents was led to try out e-cigarettes through ads on the social network Facebook.
With numerous sweet flavors, they are particularly appealing to this target group.
A study by the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) showed that 22 percent of adolescents who had already had experience with e-cigarettes also subsequently smoked tobacco cigarettes - compared to only ten percent of their non-smoking peers. (ad)