Send to

Choose Destination
Birth Defects Res. 2019 Aug 9. doi: 10.1002/bdr2.1571. [Epub ahead of print]

Developmental toxicity of e-cigarette aerosols.

Author information

Department of Oral Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Division of Craniofacial Development and Anomalies, School of Dentistry, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, 40202.


Maternal smoking during pregnancy represents a major public health concern increasing the risk for low birth weight, congenital anomalies, preterm birth, fetal mortality, and morbidity. In an effort to diminish adverse developmental effects of exposure to cigarette smoking, pregnant women, and women of reproductive age, are increasingly turning to electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), such as e-cigarettes, as an alternative. Given that health risks associated with ENDS use during pregnancy are largely unknown, there is an acute need to determine risks vs. benefits of e-cigarette use by pregnant women. While the most recent Surgeon General's Report on the "Health Consequences of Smoking" states that "the evidence is sufficient to infer that nicotine adversely affects maternal and fetal health during pregnancy, contributing to multiple adverse outcomes," it remains unclear whether use of ENDS represents a "safer alternative" to tobacco smoking during pregnancy. This is due, in part, to the lack of sufficient and conclusive evidence concerning whether or not maternal e-cigarette use adversely affects embryonic/fetal development. While several recent developmental studies have challenged the safety of nicotine inhalation via ENDS, the true risks of smoking e-cigarettes during the first trimester of pregnancy-the period of organogenesis-are largely unknown. Moreover, evidence is emerging that even nicotine-free e-cigarette aerosols may harm the developing conceptus, suggesting that components of e-cigarette liquid, including flavorings, may be developmentally toxicity. Focused human epidemiological analyses, and carefully designed animal studies are critically needed to address the question of the safety of ENDS use during pregnancy.


ENDS; e-cigarettes; embryonic development; fetal development; pregnancy


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center