Vaping vs Smoking Latest Research: Safer for Moms?

Vaping vs Smoking Latest Research: Safer for Moms?

New research could be promising for pregnant mothers looking to quit.

6 February 2024 | Hannah Rubery

Vaping vs Smoking Latest Research: Safer for Moms? (Image)

The conversation around maternal health is continuously evolving, bringing to light new practices that promise healthier outcomes for both mothers and their new-borns. Among the various health considerations for expectant mothers, the topic of smoking cessation is particularly critical. Smoking while pregnant presents well-documented risks, and thus finding safer alternatives is a matter of paramount importance.

The latest research in the UK has provided a glimmer of hope by positing that vaping could be a significantly less harmful substitute for traditional smoking. We delve into the intricate discussions surrounding the possibility of vaping while pregnant, armed with the latest evidence, to inform, educate and offer reassurance to expectant mothers on their journey to make the best choices for themselves and their babies.

Understanding the Risks of Smoking During Pregnancy

It's imperative to grasp the gravity of smoking's impact on pregnancy — a reality that research has long since illuminated. Smoking while pregnant carries a multitude of risks that can affect both the mother and the developing baby, such as:
• Increased Risk of Miscarriage: Pregnant smokers have a higher likelihood of experiencing a miscarriage due to the harmful chemicals in cigarettes that can affect the development of the foetus.
• Low Birth Weight: Babies born to smoking mothers often weigh less than those born to non-smokers, which can lead to additional health complications.
• Premature Birth: The chance of preterm delivery is significantly increased, which can result in health issues for the baby that may persist long-term.
• Respiratory Problems: Infants can suffer from respiratory distress and are more prone to developing conditions such as asthma and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
• Developmental Issues: There can be long-term effects on the child's cognitive development and behaviour, possibly affecting their academic performance later in life.

Given these substantial concerns, expectant mothers should be encouraged to eliminate traditional smoking. This is where vaping emerges as a potential ally in the quest to curb nicotine addiction, offering a pragmatic step down from smoking and a reduction in exposure to the toxins that are especially harmful during pregnancy.

Striving for Healthier Birth Outcomes: Implications of Recent UK Studies

The latest UK research draws an enlightening comparison between expecting mothers who switched to vaping, those who continued smoking, and a control group of non-smokers. It represents a significant stride in understanding the impact vaping has on pregnancy, particularly concerning birth weight, which serves as a key indicator of neonatal health.

The key findings were that those who used vaping to try and quit smoking while pregnant noted healthy birth rates similar or the same as those who abstained from smoking, vaping or nicotine replacement therapies. Therefore, the researchers suggested that vaping did not cause any issues previously thought to arise such as miscarriages or lower birth weight. It was also noted that those who used vaping to help quit cigarettes did not see any relapse.

Continued research is vital to fully endorse vaping as a definitive safe alternative. Nonetheless, these initial findings pave the way for it to be recognised as a feasible and less harmful option that can help smokers quit cigarettes. But, despite this, there should be some room for caution.

A Cautious Interpretation of Encouraging Data

While these findings are undeniably heartening, underlining the potential for vaping to offer a safer pathway for expectant mothers seeking to quit smoking, a cautious approach remains warranted.

The researchers' focus was on birth weight is a crucial but singular aspect of neonatal health. It does not encompass the myriad potential developmental outcomes that may manifest later in the child’s life. It did note conditions such as neonatal, postnatal and maternal death, and preterm birth.

Despite this, the study’s sample size was relatively small with a larger number of the studied births being made up of mothers who smoked with (dual users) or without NRTs also. This could lead to some discrepancies which the researchers did note, suggesting it would be beneficial for a larger study to take place.

The important takeaway however is that vaping and NRT's were found to provide much less harm than smoking for pregnant women and noted that those who stopped smoking thanks to vaping were less likely to relapse.

Ultimately, avoiding smoking and nicotine products in total is the most beneficial for expecting mothers. This research may help alleviate some worries and help new/expecting mothers quit cigarettes for a healthier, brighter future with their children.