Smoking during pregnancy is a primary risk factor for adverse perinatal outcomes. Although electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use has increased, reasons for and behaviors of use are not fully understood. The purpose of this study, composed exclusively of pregnant current smokers, was to describe perceptions of health risks associated with e-cigarette use among pregnant women, describe the use patterns of pregnant dual users (defined as those who simultaneously use conventional/combustible cigarettes and e-cigarettes), and examine smoking-related behaviors between conventional-only (defined as those smoking combustible cigarettes but not e-cigarettes) and dual users.
Cross-sectional data from a larger study of pregnant conventional-only and dual users were analyzed. A brief survey measured perceptions of prenatal e-cigarette use and smoking behaviors. Analysis included descriptive statistics, bivariate analysis, and logistic and linear regression analysis.
Among 176 pregnant smokers (38% dual users), more than one-half of participants believed e-cigarettes were harmful to women (56%) and posed harm to the fetus (53%). Among dual users, 41% used their e-cigarette daily, on average eight times per day. Eleven percent of dual users smoked a pack of cigarettes per day, compared with 5% of conventional-only smokers, and dual users scored significantly higher (p = .026) on the Penn State Cigarette Dependence Index. The most common e-cigarette liquid flavor was fruit (64%), and the most frequently reported e-cigarette nicotine concentration was 1-6 mg.
Characterizing perceptions and behaviors of e-cigarette use during pregnancy is foundational for future research to explore the association between product use and maternal and infant outcomes.