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Tuesday 20th August 2019

Fewer premature births due to smoking ban

15th February 2013

New research has offered further evidence that a public smoking ban is helping cut the rate of premature births.

Premature Baby

Findings reported in the British Medical Journal from a study of 600,000 births found three successive drops in babies born before 37 weeks.

Each occurred after a public smoking ban was introduced but there was no such trend in the period before the bans were put in place.

The latest study was conducted by a team at Hasselt University in Belgium and adds to similar findings from 2012 research in Scotland, though in that work researchers could not fully state the smoking ban was the cause of the change because pre-term births had started to drop before the ban.

However, the Belgium study looked at the rate of premature births after each phase of a smoking ban came into force in that country with a ban in public places and workplaces in 2006, restaurants the following year and bars serving food in 2010.

After each new phase, the rate of premature births fell and overall amounted to a fall of six premature babies in every 1,000 births.

Study leader Dr Tim Nawrot from Hasselt University said: “Because the ban happened at three different moments, we could show there was a consistent pattern of reduction in the risk of preterm delivery.

“It supports the notion that smoking bans have public health benefits even from early life.”

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists welcomed the evidence that smoking bans have had a beneficial impact on pregnant women and their babies.


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