Pediatric Environmental Health Center (PEHC) | Vaping & Pregnancy

The information on this page is available in a printable format. Download the Vaping and Pregnancy Factsheet.

What is vaping?

Vaping is the act of inhaling the aerosol from an e-cigarette. E-cigarettes are electronic devices that deliver nicotine and other chemicals directly to the lungs. They can be refillable or disposable.

They are also known as:

  • electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)
  • e-devices
  • e-pens
  • e-hookahs
  • vape pipes
  • vape pens
  • dab pens
  • dab rigs
  • juice
  • JUULs
  • mods
  • pod-mods
  • cigalikes

What is in the vaping aerosol?

The aerosol that is inhaled from the e-cigarette is not water vapor. In fact, the "vapor" contains cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals, nicotine, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ultrafine particles, and flavorings known to cause lung damage.

E-cigarette aerosol is not water vapor

What are the potential effects on a baby?

Early data shows the following, but more studies are still needed.

  • reduced learning ability
  • small birth size
  • low birth weight
  • harm brain function
  • hurt heart and lungs

Additional truths about vaping

  1. Nicotine harms: Nicotine lowers the amount of oxygen and nutrients that can get to the growing fetus.
  2. Higher nicotine absorption: E-cigarettes are made to get more nicotine into the bloodstream, with less irritation, than regular cigarettes.
  3. Labeling problems: Some products labeled as 0% nicotine actually had nicotine in them when tested in a lab.
  4. Poisoning: Adults and children can be poisoned by vape juice by swallowing, breathing, or absorbing the liquid through skin and eyes. If you have concerns, call the Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
  5. COVID-19: People who vape have a higher risk of getting COVID-19 than those who do not use e-cigarettes.

If you have concerns or if someone has ingested nicotine, especially a child, call the Poison Help hotline immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

Recommendations

If you are pregnant and vape or use other tobacco products, it is in the best interest of your health and the health of your baby to quit. The following resources are available to help you quit.

  1. Talk to your doctor or trusted health professional.
  2. Text “quit” to 202-804-9884 for free support.
  3. Seek professional health from a therapist, health coach, or tobacco treatment specialist.
  4. Enroll in a tobacco or nicotine cessation program.

Resources and more information

References for our vaping and pregnancy factsheet

Adams, S. H., Park, M. J., Schaub, J. P., Brindis, C. D., & Irwin, C. E., Jr. (2020). Medical vulnerability of young adults to severe COVID-19 illness - data from the national health interview survey. Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.06.025

Allen, J. G., Flanagan, S. S., LeBlanc, M., Vallarino, J., McNaughton, P., Stewart, J. H., & Christiani, D. C. (2016). Flavoring chemicals in e-cigarettes: Diacetyl, 2,3-Pentanedione, and acetoin in a sample of 51 products, including fruit-, candy-, and cocktail-flavored e-cigarettes. Environmental Health Perspective. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510185

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, July 21). Electronic Cigarettes. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm. Retrieved August 10, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm

Cheng, T. (2014). Chemical evaluation of electronic cigarettes. Tobacco Control, 11–17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051482

Doubeni, C. A., Reed, G., & DiFranza, J. R. (2010). Early course of nicotine dependence in adolescent smokers. Pediatrics, 125(6), 1127. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079339/

Gaiha, S. M., Chang, J., & Halpern-Felsher, B. (2020). Association between youth smoking, electronic cigarette use, and coronavirus disease 2019. Journal of Adolescent Health, 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.07.002

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020a). Monitoring the future study: Trends in prevalence of various drugs for 8th graders, 10th graders, and 12th graders (December 17, 2020). NIH. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/tobacconicotine-vaping/tobacconicotine-vaping-trends-statistics

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020b, January 8). Vaping devices (electronic cigarettes) drug facts. National institute of drug abuse. Retrieved August 10, 2021, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/vaping-devices-electronic-cigarettes

Orleans, C. T. (1994). Nicotine addiction: principles and management (J. Slade, Ed.). Oxford University Press.

Rubenstein, M. L., Delucchi, K., & Benowitz, N. L. (2018). Adolescent exposure to toxic volatile organic chemicals from e-cigarettes. Pediatrics, 141(4). http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/141/4/e20173557.short

Truth Initiative. (2021, June 15). E-cigarettes: Facts, stats and regulations. Retrieved August 10, 2021, from https://truthinitiative.org/research-resources/emerging-tobacco-products/e-cigarettes-facts-stats-and-regulations

Vas, C. A., Porter, A., & McAdam, K. (2019). Acetoin is a precursor to diacetyl in e-cigarette liquids. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 133, Article 110727. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2019.110727

Wylie, B. J., Hauptman, M., Hacker, M. R., & Hawkins, S. S. (2021). Understanding rising electronic cigarette use. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 137(3), 521–527.