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Effects of Prenatal Electronic Cigarette Exposure On Foetal Development: a Review of the LiteratureArticle in several languages: English | deutsch
Since their market launch in 2007, e-cigarettes gained popularity and were considered a relatively safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. Pregnant women and women of childbearing age in particular are increasingly turning to e-cigarettes. Little is known about the effects of prenatal exposure on the affected foetus. This paper aims to provide an overview of the current research on the effects of prenatal e-cigarette exposure on the foetus. Since studies in humans are lacking to date, this review refers only to animal and in vitro analyses. The PubMed and Web of Science databases were used for an extensive literature search. The search yielded N = 17 significant research papers. Possible sequelae resulting from prenatal exposure to traditional cigarettes were also seen in prenatal exposure to e-cigarettes. Prenatal e-cigarette exposure was found to be associated with increased DNA methylation overall, resulting in lower gene expression. This could adversely impact the development of affected children, especially in case of those genes relevant to their development. In mice, for example, this greatly reduced the cell vitality of neural and stem cells and increased cell death. Further, prenatal exposure to e-cigarettes resulted in numerous developmental disorders, such as malformations of facial morphology and lower birth weight. Moreover, in animal models the animals suffered from a deterioration of their short-term memory. Activity and cognitive flexibility increased, while anxiety behaviour decreased. It is clear that more research and especially studies of humans are needed on this issue. In addition, there is a need for more intense education of prenatal care professionals as well as women of childbearing age and during pregnancy.
Received: 22 February 2021
Accepted after revision: 08 June 2021
Article published online:
04 November 2021
© 2021. The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commecial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
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