Called craniosynostosis, the condition results from the premature closure of joints, or sutures, that connect sections of the skull and remain flexible early in life as the brain continues to grow. One or more of the sutures can be affected. “Where there is supposed to be a growth site to allow for expansion of the brain, the joints are locked together. The brain can’t push those skull sections apart, so it grows in other directions,” said James Cray, associate professor of anatomy in Ohio State’s College of Medicine and senior author of the study.
In human babies, this skull abnormality not only changes the shape of the head but may lead to compulsory neurosurgery in order to make room for the brain to grow. “We knew based on previous data in pregnancy that we’d see some changes, but we were a bit taken aback to find there were discernible differences when the nicotine exposure was occurring only during lactation,” said Cray.
“Our data suggest that nicotine alone can alter development of the head and face. That means mothers who vape are likely exposing their unborn children or infants to an amount of nicotine and its metabolites that can disturb growth in the same way cigarettes can.”
E-vapour exposure impaired rats’ long-term memory
Another recent study on rats, aimed to analyze the effect of e-cig aerosol exposure on adult male offspring. Titled, “Effect of Electronic cigarette aerosol Exposure During Gestation and Lactation on Learning and Memory of Adult Male Offspring Rats” this study exposed rats to either fresh air or e-cig vapour for one hour daily during their gestation period, as well as days 4-21 of lactation.
The results indicated that relative to fresh air exposure, aerosol exposure during gestation/lactation impaired long-term memory in adult offspring (P<0.05). The researchers concluded that e-cig vapour during gestation and lactation impaired long-term memory and that therefore vaping during pregnancy should be discouraged.
To vape or not to vape
Meanwhile, in response to such studies about e-cig use during pregnancy, harm reduction advocates have always maintained that such research needs to be put in perspective. While everyone agrees that no pregnant women should take up vaping for leisure and ideally they would completely abstain from such products, since vaping is significantly safer than smoking, heavy smokers who are unable to quit otherwise, would still benefit by switching to the safer alternatives, as would their offspring.
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