E-cigarettes are not safe to smoke around babies | MomsCharlotte.com

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Rhonda Patt is a pediatrician at Charlotte Pediatric Clinic and the mother of 3 adorable children. Follow her on Twitter @mommy_doc.

E-cigarettes are not safe to smoke around babies

09/17/13 08:47

Q. My husband is a smoker and we are expecting our first baby in a few months. He is having a difficult time kicking the habit and has asked whether e-cigarettes are a safe alternative. Is second-hand smoke from an e-cigarette dangerous?

A. An electronic cigarette is a device that looks like a traditional cigarette but works by creating a nicotine mist that is inhaled. Many e-cigarette manufacturers are marketing these as “safe” alternatives to cigarettes; however, the public should be aware that this assertion is presumptuous at best.

To begin by stating the obvious, nicotine is an addictive drug – regardless of the route by which it enters a person’s body. Children whose parents smoke are more likely to develop this same habit. So the best gift an expectant parent with a nicotine addiction could give to his or her baby is to stop smoking.

Although e-cigarettes do not smell like tobacco, no one knows the effects of their secondhand smoke. In 2009, the FDA tested e-cigarettes from two leading manufacturers and found detectable levels of toxins and carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), including diethylene glycol and nitrosamines, in their cartridges.

Another concern is the risk of nicotine ingestion. A nicotine cartridge for an e-cigarette contains up to 20mg of nicotine. This exceeds the estimated fatal dose of nicotine for a child. Refill bottles for the cartridges contain up to 7 grams of nicotine. Ingesting four drops of refill solution could be fatal for a child.

Since their introduction to the market in 2007, e-cigarettes are gaining popularity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, twice as many teens tried e-cigarettes in 2012 compared to 2011. They are sold in flavors such as gummy bears and vanilla.

Rhonda Patt is a pediatrician with Charlotte Pediatric Clinic. Email living@charlotteobserver.com; put “pediatrician,” in the subject line.

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