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Half of young mothers smoke, boosting risks

About half of pregnant women in Finland under age 20 are smokers, says the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Teen mothers are most likely to smoke. Image: Yle

The number of female smokers has declined in the other Nordic countries—but not in Finland.

“Twenty to 30 years ago, over a third of women in the other Nordics were smokers, but in Finland the figure was 20 percent. Now the numbers in Finland are still the same, but in the other Nordics they are far lower,” says Mika Gissler, a research professor at the THL.

However more and more give up cigarettes in the first months of pregnancy. Now, one in three women smokers quits the habit in the first months of pregnancy, whereas a couple of decades ago only about 11 percent did so.

Health professionals say young mothers-to-be are the most ardent smokers. Few Finnish women have kids before they reach the age of 20: they number less than one percent. But half of them smoke in early pregnancy, and only about one in four give up tobacco while expecting a child.

Newborns with mothers who smoke weigh on average 200 grams less than other infants, which can contribute to other health issues. They also have a higher risk of leukaemia, attention deficit disorders and crib death.

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