Nicotine can harm developing brains, experts say
WebMD News from HealthDay
By Steven Reinberg
FRIDAY, March 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Nicotine exposure from e-cigarettes may damage the developing brains of infants in the womb, as well as the brains of children and adolescents, suggests a new review of nicotine's effects.
Animal experiments have shown that exposure to nicotine can harm developing lungs and brains, according to the review's senior author Dr. Tim McAfee, director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Office on Smoking and Health. The harm in the animal brains occurs in areas involved in thinking and language development, and short- and long-term memory, he said.
McAfee said that manufacturers contend that e-cigarettes are safe because they release harmless water vapor. However, that vapor contains nicotine, which can be inhaled by kids who are near people using these devices. Children can also be exposed to nicotine from surfaces where it has accumulated from the vapor. If children touch those surfaces and then place their hands into their mouths, they can potentially be exposed to nicotine.
However, it should be noted that most of the studies in the review don't look specifically at e-cigarette use. Instead, most looked at the effects of nicotine exposure on animals and humans from other sources, such as cigarettes or chewing tobacco. So, it remains unclear exactly how much nicotine exposure developing babies, children and teens are getting from e-cigarettes, as well as what the potential harms are from that exposure.
The amount of nicotine an e-cigarette delivers depends on the type of e-cigarette, McAfee said. The nicotine dose can range from as little as the equivalent of half a cigarette to as much as a whole cigarette, he said.
McAfee acknowledged that e-cigarettes may help people trying to give up cigarettes.
"Although e-cigarettes have some benefit among adult smokers if they are used as a complete substitute for all tobacco products, e-cigarettes should not be used by youth and adult non-tobacco users because of the harmful effects of nicotine and the risk of progression to other forms of tobacco use," he said.
source : E-Cigarettes May Pose a Risk in Pregnancy and to Children