The role of nicotine in the effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy on lung development and childhood respiratory disease: Implications for dangers of e-cigarettes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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Use of e-cigarettes, especially among the young, is increasing at nearexponential rates. This is coupled with a perception that e-cigarettes are safe and with unlimited advertising geared toward vulnerable populations, the groups most likely to smoke or vape during pregnancy. There isnow wide appreciation of the dangers of maternal smoking during pregnancy and the lifelong consequences this has on offspring lung function, including the increased risk of childhood wheezing and subsequent asthma. Recent evidence strongly supports that much of the effect of smoking during pregnancy on offspring lung function is mediated by nicotine, making it highly likely that e-cigarette use during pregnancy will have the same harmful effects on offspring lung function and health as do conventional cigarettes. In fact, the evidence for nicotine being the mediator of harm of conventional cigarettes may bemost compelling for its effects on lung development. This raises concerns about both the combined use of e-cigarettes plus conventional cigarettes by smokers during pregnancy as well as the use of e-cigarettes by e-cigarette-only users who think themsafe or by those sufficiently addicted to nicotine to not be able to quit e-cigarette usageduring pregnancy.Thus, it is important for health professionals to be aware of the risks of e-cigarette usage during pregnancy, particularly as it pertains to offspring respiratory health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-494
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016



  • Asthma
  • Lung development
  • Nicotinic receptor
  • Pulmonary function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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