Statement: Exposure to e-cigarettes during pregnancy increases the risk of asthma in offspring

Vaping during pregnancy increases the risk of allergic asthma in offspring, according to research presented today at the European Respiratory Society International Congress.

Researchers at the University of Technology Sydney, in Australia, exposed pregnant mice to e-cigarette vapour before mating, during pregnancy and while they were feeding their young. The researchers also exposed human cells to varying concentrations of e-cigarette liquid and measured the functioning of mitochondria – the battery-like molecules that power key processes in cells such as respiration.

Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK, said:” We know that smoking, or being around other people smoking, makes asthma worse by causing permanent damage to the lungs. In the short term, it can also lead to asthma symptoms and even a potentially life-threatening asthma attack. However, little research has been done so far looking at the effects of e-cigarette vapour exposure on non-smokers with asthma.

“This is an innovative area of research, but this study was in mice and further investigation is needed to see whether the same results are also seen in humans before we can draw any solid conclusions. In the meantime, Asthma UK advises people with asthma to avoid inhaling anything into their lungs which may be harmful, as it could make their asthma worse.”

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact the Asthma UK media team on mediaoffice@asthma.org.uk, 020 7786 4949 (during office hours) or 07951 721393 (outside of office hours).

*Data sources: Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data via NHS Digital (England), Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland and NHS Wales

The Asthma UK Data Portal is a new online tool for journalists to access the latest figures and trends in asthma outcomes across the UK. Information on asthma facts and statistics can also be found on our website.

About Asthma UK

• In the UK, 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma: 1.1 million children (1 in 11) and 4.3 million adults (1 in 12).
• Every day, the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one to an asthma attack, and tragically two thirds of these deaths are preventable.
• Asthma UK’s mission is to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma. We do this by funding world leading research, campaigning for improved care and supporting people to reduce their risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack.
• For more information about asthma please visit www.asthma.org.uk