Researchers found that maternal e-cigarette vaping
was linked to an increased risk of allergic asthma
The study was carried out in mice, but Dr Pawan
Sharma, Chancellors Fellow and Research Leader in
the Airways Disease Group at the University of
Technology Sydney, Australia, will tell the
congress: "These findings highlight that e-cigarette
use during pregnancy should not be considered safe."
Allergic asthma is caused by a reaction to allergens
such as pollen, dust mites and pets.
Dr Sharma and colleagues exposed female mice, before
mating, to either e-cigarette vapour, with or
without nicotine, or to normal room air.
The mice continued to vape during pregnancy, birth
and while they were feeding their young.
The offspring were then exposed to an allergen made
from ovalbumin (the major proteins found in eggs)
until they developed asthma.
The researchers also exposed human cells to varying
concentrations of e-cigarette liquid in the
laboratory and measured the functioning of
mitochondria (battery-like molecules that power key
processes, such as respiration, in cells).
"Our study found that maternal vaping increased the
risk and severity of allergic asthma in offspring.
We also found that the detrimental effects of vaping
were partially mediated through impairment of
mitochondrial function, which affects cellular
respiration, and were independent of nicotine.
This means that vaping, even without nicotine
present, has a demonstrated negative impact on cell
function," says Dr Sharma.
"It is now known that maternal tobacco smoking is
detrimental to lung health and increases the risk
and severity of allergic airways disease in
E-cigarette vaping is comparatively new, but
emerging research suggests that its use is growing
There is a perception that vaping is a safer
alternative to cigarette smoking and it is
increasingly being viewed as a tool to help quit
smoking during pregnancy.
However, studies of the safety of maternal vaping
for offspring, especially the subsequent development
of allergic airways disease, are lacking.
Our study demonstrates that maternal vaping is
associated with impaired lung function and an
increased risk of asthma in offspring.
Action is needed to remove the general public's
false impression that all e-cigarettes are safe and
effective smoking cessation aids."
The researchers are carrying out further studies to
understand the mechanism by which e-cigarette vaping
enhances allergic inflammation and worsens asthma.
Dr Sharma concludes: "Because e-cigarettes do not
require combustion unlike traditional tobacco
cigarettes, vaping produces reduced levels of toxic
However, it is now becoming increasingly clear that
vaping can still expose humans to numerous compounds
that are toxic in nature and have undesirable
Moreover, the availability of different e-cigarette
flavours and the use of nicotine on top has the
potential to create a dangerously addictive
concoction leading to unwanted health outcomes."
For more information
The European Respiratory Society
University of Technology, Sydney