Study reveals teens smoke to reduce the likelihood of giving birth to a large child.

A 10-year Australian study revealed pregnant teens are more concerned about giving birth to a large child than the health risks involved to baby cigarettes can cause.

Associate Professor Simone Dennis, of the Australian National University, told the Daily Telegraph she was stunned to learn teen girls took a cue from warnings on cigarette packets that say smoking could cause small babies.

“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,” she said.

smoking baby
“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.”

The research showed some pregnant girls had taken up smoking specifically for pregnancy, while others smoked more regularly, Assoc Prof Dennis said.

“If you smoked more, you could make it better. I was really struck by that.”

Assoc Prof Dennis just published her findings in the book Smokefree.

We recently shared news that a new study has discovered an association between a mother’s smoking and an increased risk of her child developing schizophrenia.

RISKS of smoking during pregnancy

We already know that smoking during pregnancy can result in low birth weight, brain development, and short- and long-term cognition, higher risk of SIDS, decreased lung function, higher risk of asthma and also increased risk of cleft lip and cleft palate.

Some of the many damaging effects of cigarette smoke on the fetus include: via Better Health
•reduced oxygen supply due to carbon monoxide and nicotine
•retarded growth and development
•increased risk of cleft lip and cleft palate
•decreased fetal movements in the womb for at least an hour after smoking one cigarette
•impaired development and working of the placenta
•changes in the baby’s brain and lungs.

Contact Quitline on 13 78 48

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  • I agree that better education programs especially for teens are needed. It must be a very scary and uncertain time for them indeed. It doesn’t help of course when a teen has ambivalent feelings towards the pregnancy already.


  • We need better education programs specifically for teen mums to be ante natally. There is so much to learn about being pregnant and the impending birth for all mothers. It’s a scary time for all mums for a variety of reasons let alone having to manage it all as a teenager.


  • Maybe they should visit the special units in some hospitals where babies are being cared for as a result of the Mother smoking during pregnancy. Some continue to smoke while breastfeeding. They get a double dose of it according to some health professionals who have done a lot of research. The Dad smoking around a pregnant lady or baby causes problems too.


  • This is awful! Everyone would like a smaller baby, but not like this & it still hurts anyway ????????


  • It doesn’t make sense why they would do it!


  • The long term impact of smoking during pregnancy is well documented. Horrifying to think women still smoke during pregnancy. The impact to mum and bub is awful.


  • Goodness me. That is really sad


  • Smoking does not cause you to have small babies I have smoked since I was 13 years old, I had my first child at 18 years old I quit smoking for the first three months but started again once the morning sickness wore off he was a healthy 7pound 4 ounces baby, I had my second child at 19 years old, I smoked a lot during my pregnancy with him as I was under a lot of stress, he was my biggest he was a healthy 10 pound 10 ounces baby, I had my third baby when I was 23 and smoked my whole pregnancy but cut back to about 3-5 a day he came out a healthy 8 pound 8 ounces baby I am now 24 and I am due in two weeks with my fourth child and I have smoked my whole pregnancy but have cut back to only having two a day and she looks like she will be my smallest, as the doctors said she is petit so looking around 6 -7 pound (hopefully), so these teenagers need to get it through there head that smoking is unhealthy and it does not guarantee that just because they start smoking that they will have a small baby, it shouldn\’t matter how big the baby is as long as it healthy


  • Teenagers aren’t renowned for forward thinking. When you’re pregnant, no matter what age, there’s always a fear of having a big baby. It’s unfortunate that they’ve made this link as I’m sure none of them who take up smoking for that reason could possibly fathom what risks they’re exposing their unborn child to.


  • No! I can’t really believe that women would misinterpret such an important message. :-(


  • Teens are the most well informed they have ever been – through school programs, tv advertisements and programs, internet information, libraries etc – yet they are still having unprotected sex and smoking. It seems you just can’t educate some people.


  • This is really sad – both that they’re scared and that they’re doing this.


  • That is disgusting.
    Why are teenagers getting pregnant – they are children themselves, to obviously think that smoking is something that is okay to do so that the child is born underweight!!!
    Where is the education? WHy is this happening!


  • This is horrific! What a twisted way to look at messages that are there to get people to stop smoking! I understand being scared however surely they have more sense than to smoke to “make it better’!!!


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