NIH Awards $2.3 Million Grant to Study the Impact of Vaping During Pregnancy


Scientific research has consistently indicated that pregnant women who smoke, are likely to increase the risk of their children having asthma. Moreover these offspring tend to pass it on to their own children, whether they are smokers themselves or not.

Some other studies, such as one published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine earlier this year, and a previous one in BMC Pulmonary Medicine last October, have also indicated links between vaping and asthma. However these findings were based on self reports via telephone surveys, hence were not considered fully reliable.

Given that vaping has increased exponentially, and that pregnant women who have tried and failed quitting smoking via other means, are in most countries encouraged to switch to e-cigarettes as a last resort, this topic has become one of critical importance to research.

To this effect, researchers from The Lundquist Institute, have received a $2.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research the multi-generational effect of vaping during pregnancy. “These studies will advance our knowledge on the transgenerational risk of vaping and will also help inform regulatory policies concerning exposure to e-cig nicotine and flavoring from vaping,” said Dr. Rehan, a researcher at the Institute.

Looking for a possible transgenerational asthma risk for vapers

The study will look for any independent effects on transgenerational asthma risks, by looking for any possible changes on viability and the epigenetic memory of germ cells.

This study will aim to determine whether e-cigarette vapour increases the risk of asthma in the offspring of pregnant mice. The researchers will test whether the offspring exposed to vapour solely in utero, bear an increased risk of giving birth to offspring with asthma.

The researchers will also examine whether vapourized nicotine and flavours have any independent effects on transgenerational asthma risks, by looking for any possible changes on viability and the epigenetic memory of germ cells.

“There has been an erroneous perception that vaping is relatively safe when compared to smoking,” inaccurately stated Dr. Rehan . “These studies will advance our knowledge on the transgenerational risk of vaping and will also help inform regulatory polices concerning exposure to e-cig nicotine and flavoring from vaping.”

Vapour exposure impaired long-term memory of rat babies

Meanwhile, a recent study published in Physiology & Behavior, looked into the effect of vapour exposure in utero, on adult male rats’ spatial learning ability and memory.

Human male fetuses are known to be more susceptible to stress than their female counterparts, hence why only males were selected for the study. The fetuses were exposed to either fresh air or e-cig vapour, for one hour daily during their gestational period as well as days 4-21 of lactation. The subjects were followed for 19 weeks, after which their spatial learning ability and memory were tested.

The results indicated that relative to fresh air exposure, aerosol exposure during the gestation and lactation periods impaired long-term memory in adult offspring (P<0.05). To this effect, the researchers concluded that vaping during pregnancy should be discouraged.

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