A study led by the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) has found that women who use electronic cigarettes during pregnancy are 33 percent more likely than those who don’t to give birth to low-birthweight infants, according to a press release. Low-birthweight babies — those weighing less than 5.5 pounds — often require specialized medical care and are at greater risk of early-life complications and long-lasting health issues, said Annette Regan, the study’s corresponding author and an adjunct assistant professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
Findings from the study, which also involved researchers from the University of San Francisco, Texas A&M University and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are published online in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
The researchers analyzed data on approximately 80,000 mothers from the 2016–18 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, or PRAMS, a CDC-coordinated project that collects information nationwide on maternal experiences before, during and shortly after pregnancy. Among that cohort, 1.1 percent (800) reported having used e-cigarettes during the final three months of their pregnancy, and nearly two-thirds (533) of those e-cigarette users said they had also combustible cigarettes during that period.
“Although only a small percentage of people used e-cigarettes, we were surprised with how many used both e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes during pregnancy,” said Regan, who also teaches at the University of San Francisco’s nursing school. “We found increased rates of low birthweight for e-cigarette users, and this occurred even for those who didn’t also smoke cigarettes.”