Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Teens 'smoke to have small babies' - Yahoo! News UK

Teens 'smoke to have small babies' - Yahoo! News UK

London Nutritionist Yvonne Bishop-Weston said "This is ridiculous - young mothers are pointlessly endangering not only their baby's long term health but also their own. The baby's head is likely to be around the same size despite the smaller body and it's the head that's most difficult to get out. In addition smoking is really bad for the skin so the likelihood of horrendous stretch marks is far greater"

Pregnant teenagers are deliberately smoking in the hope of having smaller babies so giving birth is easier, it has been reported.

Public health minister Caroline Flint spoke at a Labour Party conference fringe meeting about teenagers' attempts to reduce their labour pains, the Nursing Standard magazine reported.

Smoking can lead to low birthweight babies, meaning some teenagers smoke throughout pregnancy, the magazine said.

The Department of Health said Ms Flint had heard about the issue anecdotally from health professionals and young women she has met.

Ms Flint said: "It is important that we understand what stops young women making healthy choices so we can provide the right answers to their concerns.

"In this case, childbirth is no less painful if your baby is low weight. So smoking is not the answer, pain relief is."

Studies have shown that women who smoke during pregnancy are three times more likely to have a low birthweight baby. Smoking can also cause other problems, such as respiratory illness.

Women who smoke are less likely to carry their babies to full term and there is a 26% increased risk that they will miscarry or experience stillbirth.

Babies of smoking mothers are also an average of 200g (7oz) lighter at birth.

Royal College of Midwives (RCM) midwife Gail Johnson said there was no evidence that having a smaller baby reduced pain in labour. She said: "It is vital that the risks associated with smoking are highlighted and that women are then supported to make changes to their lifestyle but the RCM is very clear that there is no evidence that the size of the baby relates to the amount of pain the woman may experience."

Story by PA Press Association

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