Teenage girls in Australia are smoking while pregnant to have smaller babies, research has found.
The study found that the young girls are deliberately using this method due to the belief that a smaller baby will make for an easier delivery. Reportedly, the young mothers got the idea from health warnings on cigarette packets. The warnings state that "smoking while pregnant can reduce the weight of your baby." Instead of heeding the warning, some teens are pursuing this as a way to deliberately have a smaller baby.
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Associate Professor Simone Dennis, of the Australian National University, initially started her research to discover views of smokers in the wake of the introduction of health warnings on cigarette packets, according to The New Zealand Herald.
She told the paper about her findings: "They had read on packets that smoking can reduce the birth weight of your baby, which is obviously not how the public health message is intended to be taken."
"They were scared because they were small. The worst thing that could happen to them was to have an enormous baby. Some were young, 16 or 17 years, and their overriding fear was 'Oh my God, I'm going to have an enormous child', so they were actively using cigarettes to medicate against that," she said.
Smoking while pregnant can cause great harm to an unborn child. Nicotine and numerous other drugs travel through the mom's blood stream and directly to the child which can increase the baby's heart rate, lead to birth defects, premature birth and even miscarriage.
This is what smoking does to an unborn baby: