Closeup of woman vaping in an article about secondhand smoke bad for pregnancy
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Is Vape Smoke Bad For Pregnancy? Experts Explain The Risks

You probably already know the answer to this one.

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Most women know about the dangers of smoking while pregnant. And while things are constantly being taken off, and put back on, the list of things that are risky or to be avoided entirely during pregnancy, smoking is definitely a solidified point: Highlighted, underlined, and in bold print. But what about partners of pregnant women? How should they behave? Can my partner vape while I'm pregnant? Is secondhand vape smoke bad for pregnancy the way that secondhand smoke from cigarettes is?

Is secondhand vape smoke bad for pregnancy?

“Cigarettes and nicotine vape pens both increase the risk of miscarriage, bleeding, stillbirth, asthma and sudden infant death (SIDS),” says Dr. Lisa Thiel, an OB-GYN and maternal fetal medicine specialist at Corewell Health. If you are pregnant and live with a partner who vapes, they should not vape in the house and should avoid vaping near you at all times. “E-cigarettes and vape pens are misleading and were thought to be ‘safer’ than cigarettes,” Thiel says. “However, vape smoke contains carcinogens including lead, formaldehyde and toluene and the airway is at a risk of lifelong lung damage.” Secondhand vape smoke poses the same risks as secondhand smoke from regular cigarettes with high levels of exposure. A ‘high level’ of exposure would be defined, Thiel says, as living in a smoking household or work environment with high levels of secondhand smoke.

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Do I need to worry about secondhand exposure during pregnancy?

In short, if secondhand smoke exposure — whether from a vape pen or e-cigarette or traditional cigarette — is a constant in your life, you should address it as quickly as possible. “Careful attention to decreasing nicotine use and secondhand exposure during pregnancy is imperative,” says Thiel, explaining that the risks are multi-faceted. Not only does secondhand smoke — or secondhand vape smoke — present a risk to you during pregnancy, but it is extremely risky for a newborn baby as well.

If you have a partner who smokes and you’re expecting a baby, you should begin to mitigate the risks of secondhand smoke as soon as you can — in part because you’ll need to take extra precautions after the baby arrives, as well. “I recommend having the newborn or any child watched by a safe caregiver, and the smoker to smoke outdoors and then wash all hair, clothes and brush/rinse mouth following any smoking or vaping,” Thiel suggests.

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Is vaping as dangerous as smoking?

The American Lung Association says “the aerosol (vapor) emitted by e-cigarettes and exhaled is full of formaldehyde” and that “little is known about these emissions or the potential harm they can cause.” So, if your partner vapes as a replacement to smoking tobacco cigarettes, different doesn't equal better. “There are many smoking cessation programs and support,” reminds Thiel. “Nicotine is highly addictive and we want to optimize the health of everyone in the community.” Pregnancy is a time of change no matter what, and perhaps it is just the motivation that your partner needs to quit. Regardless, it is absolutely important that pregnant people avoid secondhand vape smoke.


Dr. Lisa Thiel, DO, maternal fetal medicine specialist, Corewell Health

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