Researchers exposed a group of African clawed frog embryos to e-cigarette aerosols to determine if there may be a link between using e-cigarettes during pregnancy and birth defects. While African clawed frog embryos may seem like an odd choice to simulate a human embryo, the two are more alike than we would think. Major developmental events in both are controlled by similar genes and researchers could expect similar results in human embryos if a chemical intervention impacts a frog embryo.
They noted that there were some marked facial deformities in frog embryos exposed to e-cigarette aerosol and flavored e-cig aerosols affected the embryos the most. Depending on the type of e-liquid used, most frogs either developed clefts or abnormally small faces. They also had decreased blood cells and defective head muscles and cartilage. Nicotine especially has been shown to be harmful to developing human babies but researchers noted that facial deformities were caused regardless of whether or not the e-cigarettes had nicotine in them.
Expecting moms may think about using electronic devices as a way to quit smoking to protect their babies and this study suggests that this may not be safe for her baby. If you’re expecting and find yourself in this situation, please contact your OB care provider and call 1(800)QUIT-NOW, Indiana’s free quitting resource.