Study: E-Cigarette Vapor May Cause Same Facial Birth Defects As Traditional Smoking

'Cigarette smoking is injurious to health!'- Whether you are a smoker or a non-smoker, you would assuredly know this statement as a statutory warning that is always imprinted on the cigarette packets.

It may also have been reiterated by means of advertisements, documentary films, campaigns or presentations by various foundations, and so on. Smoking is a proven addiction with immediate or gradual health hazards, causing fatal ailments such as cancer, respiratory disorders, heart attacks, etc.

e-cigarette vapor facial birth defects

E-cigarettes or electronic cigarettes are considered a safer alternative to the conventional cigarettes containing tobacco or nicotine. They are one of the most preferred choices for many people who are keen on cutting down smoking gradually. Let us explore both kinds of cigarettes to understand the difference better.

The traditional kind of cigarette is usually formed by dried tobacco leaves, finely cut and rolled into a narrow cylindrically shaped thin paper. The drug chemical found in tobacco is called nicotine, which is a highly addictive component and a direct cause of numerous health issues related to the lungs, liver or heart.

Cigarette smoking by pregnant women has been seen to cause fetal issues such as abnormal growth of brain or muscle-tone, birth-defects such as facial malformation possibly due to neuro-behavior anomalies, premature birth and less birth-weight.

The smoke generated by a cigarette comprises more than 6000 chemical substances like arsenic, carbon monoxide, lead, and many other harmful compounds that impact a smoker adversely. It is noteworthy to point out that many a times, even the non-smokers experience health issues being in the constant proximity to those who smoke.

Commonly called passive smokers or second-hand smokers, these non-smokers inadvertently inhale or are exposed to the smoke, thereby increasing vulnerability to disease of cardiovascular, lung-related or respiratory nature.

Due to all the inevitable risks involved with cigarettes, the concept of E-cigarettes was introduced in the early 60s by Herbert A Gilbert.

He planned and implemented the patenting of a smokeless cigarette as a device that didn't include tobacco or paper, instead produced steamed, flavored & moist air. However, Gilbert's idea didn't succeed, since smoking was too popular back then.

The concept of E-cigarettes failed even before it could be commercialized. However, in the recent times, the situation has completely changed. Due to the safety-related reasons, E-cigarettes are significantly in demand. So now, what exactly are E-cigarettes? How do they function? Are there any side-effects involved with using E-cigarettes?

An E-cigarette refers to an electronic device that follows the principle of vaping or generation of vapor that is inhaled by the user. It is a hand-held device consisting of a liquid called E-liquid that may be made of nicotine, glycerine or any other flavouring.

People eager to quit smoking on a gradual basis prefer E-cigarettes, since it helps activate a feeling of tobacco smoking in them. Some people use them due to their odour-free quality, and also since they are cheaper in some locations.

Some of the side-effects caused by E-cigarettes are dryness of the mouth, throat or lips, headaches, allergies, muscle-aches, etc. A series of tests and study by the Virginia Commonwealth University in the US, listed out certain birth-related side effects of using E-cigarettes.

They conducted tests on pregnant mice and frogs to determine the underlying dangers for the unborn fetus. They exposed these animals to e-cigarette vapors using different kinds of chemical substances (both flavored and unflavored), and bred them.

Their findings were either lesser number of embryos or fetuses with abnormally developed faces. Although their entire experimentation did not infer any conclusions on the actual cause of the facial defects, after being in close vicinity of the e-cigarette vapor, the study did suggest the presence of toxic metallic substances such as lead, mercury, nickel, chromium or cadmium in the vapors.

If we compare both kinds of cigarettes, we can clearly deduce that the presence or even absence of nicotine in an E-cigarette can cause birth-specific defects like the ones caused by regular cigarettes containing nicotine. Only the intensity may be comparatively lesser.

However, the vapor exhaled by E-cigarettes may include carcinogens like formaldehyde, which may be harmful if used in high doses. It may be impossible to know which chemicals may be turning into vapor before reaching the fetus to harm it. Therefore, it may be a good idea to entirely skip traditional smoking or vaping for the sake of a healthily growing embryo!

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