Is Secondhand Vape Dangerous During Pregnancy?

Is Secondhand Vape Dangerous During Pregnancy?

As vaping becomes increasingly popular, the questions regarding vaping continue to stack up. Vaping while pregnant has been studied and found to be negative, but what about secondhand vape during pregnancy?

Second hand smoke has been widely established as harmful due to many studies and widely published ad campaigns, but what about secondhand vape? Can secondhand vape harm you or your baby? In this article, we’re going to look at potential risks surrounding specifically secondhand vape during pregnancy. We’ll also look at the most at-risk groups for harm from second hand vape.

Understanding E-cigarettes and Secondhand Vaping

E-cigarettes are innovative electronic devices designed to simulate the experience of smoking without burning tobacco. They work by heating a liquid, commonly referred to as e-liquid or vape juice, to produce a vapor that the user inhales and then exhales.

This vapor is not merely harmless water vapor, as is sometimes assumed; it contains a variety of chemicals, including nicotine, flavoring agents, and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs. When a pregnant woman is exposed to secondhand vape aerosol, it's not just her health at risk; the developing fetus is also exposed to these substances.

Nicotine, for instance, is particularly concerning because it can affect fetal development, potentially leading to long-term health issues for the child. Thus, exposure to e-cigarette vapor, even secondarily, can have significant implications for both maternal and fetal health.

Potential Risks of Secondhand Vaping During Pregnancy

Nicotine Exposure

One of the key worries about second hand vape during pregnancy relates to nicotine exposure. Nicotine, found in e-cigarettes, poses serious risks to fetal health. Research links nicotine exposure from second hand vape during pregnancy to increased risks of preterm delivery, low birth weight, and more severe outcomes like stillbirth, as well as negative impacts on lung and brain development in the fetus, and the possibility of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Ultrafine Particles

Secondhand vape aerosol, a concern when considering second hand vape during pregnancy, carries ultrafine particles capable of deep lung penetration. These tiny particles, present in second hand vape during pregnancy, are linked to an elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Although the full impact of these particles on pregnancy requires further study, the potential risks they pose to both maternal and fetal health should not be underestimated, emphasizing the need for caution and more comprehensive research in this area.


Certain carcinogens, such as lead, formaldehyde, and toluene, have been found in secondhand vape aerosol. Prolonged exposure to these substances may increase the risk of certain cancers. While the levels of these carcinogens in secondhand vape aerosol are generally lower than those found in traditional cigarette smoke, their presence is still a cause for concern.

At-Risk Groups: Who is Most Vulnerable?

While secondhand vape aerosol can potentially affect anyone, certain groups may be at higher risk for negative health effects. These include:

Infants and Children

Infants and children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of secondhand vape aerosol due to their lower body weight and developing respiratory systems. Even low concentrations of the components in vape aerosol can impact brain and lung development, potentially leading to long-term health issues.

Pregnant Individuals

Pregnant individuals should exercise caution when it comes to secondhand vaping. Nicotine exposure, whether through active smoking or secondhand aerosol, can have detrimental effects on both maternal and fetal health. It is important to prioritize the well-being of both the mother and the developing baby by avoiding exposure to secondhand vape aerosol.

Individuals with Lung Conditions

People with pre-existing lung conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), may experience worsened symptoms or asthma attacks when exposed to secondhand vape aerosol. The flavorings used in vape juices, such as diacetyl, can impair the function of cilia in the airway, potentially exacerbating respiratory issues.


Thirdhand Exposure: A Lingering Concern

In addition to secondhand exposure, there is also the concept of thirdhand exposure to consider. When someone vapes, the components of the aerosol settle on surfaces, creating a potential source of exposure. Touching contaminated surfaces may result in the transfer of these components, further increasing the risk of exposure, especially for crawling babies, who are always in contact with the floor and other surfaces.

Best Practices to Minimize Risk

While quitting vaping is the most effective way to protect both yourself and others, we understand that it is not always easy. If you are unable to quit, here are some best practices to minimize the risks of secondhand vaping during pregnancy:

Vape Outdoors

If you choose to vape, it is best to do so outdoors. Avoid vaping in enclosed spaces, such as homes or cars, to prevent the accumulation of harmful components in the air and on surfaces.

Avoid Vaping Around Vulnerable Individuals

Infants, children, pregnant individuals, and those with lung conditions are at higher risk for adverse effects from secondhand vape aerosol. It is important to respect their health by refraining from vaping in their presence.

Be Mindful of Flavored Vape Juices

Flavorings used in vape juices have been implicated as possible causes of lung damage. Some of these chemicals have also been detected in secondhand vape aerosol. Consider choosing unflavored or low-flavor options to minimize potential risks.

Opt for Low-Nicotine Vape Products

Reducing the nicotine content in your vape products can help lower the risks associated with nicotine exposure. Gradually tapering off nicotine can support your efforts to quit vaping and minimize the effects on both yourself and others.

Choose Devices with Lower Power and Temperature

The type of vaping device you use can influence the chemicals produced and inhaled/exhaled. Higher power and temperature settings can result in the production of more harmful chemicals. Opt for devices with lower settings to minimize potential risks.

Quit With Relay

Relay can support pregnant women in their journey to quit vaping by offering a personalized and supportive recovery experience. The platform leverages behavior change psychology, providing daily check-ins, psychology-based lessons, and a supportive community to help manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms effectively.

This approach helps pregnant women adopt healthier habits for themselves and their developing babies, making the quitting process more manageable and less isolating. For more detailed information, visiting the Relay website would be beneficial.


While the long-term effects of secondhand vaping during pregnancy are still being investigated, it is important to exercise caution and prioritize the health of both the mother and the developing baby. Nicotine exposure, ultrafine particles, and carcinogens found in secondhand vape aerosol can pose risks to vulnerable individuals. By following best practices and minimizing exposure, you can take steps to protect yourself and those around you. It is always advisable to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and guidance during pregnancy.

One of the key worries about second hand vape during pregnancy relates to nicotine exposure. Nicotine, found in e-cigarettes, poses serious risks to fetal health. Research links nicotine exposure from second hand vape during pregnancy to increased risks of preterm delivery, low birth weight, and other, more severe outcomes.


NCBI: Vaping During Pregnancy

Ohio State University: Long-Term Effects of Vaping on Infants

HealthLine: Second Hand Vape Exposure and Health Effects

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