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Premature births down after smoke ban

7th March 2012

The premature birth rate in Scotland has fallen by 10% since the country introduced a ban on smoking in public places in 2006.

Premature Baby

Researchers believe this is another benefit of the smoke-free approach, alongside reductions in heart disease and childhood asthma.

Writing in the journal Plos Medicine, researchers examined data for 700,000 women over a 14-year period and looked at smoking and birth rates for pregnant women in Scotland before and after the ban came into force.

After it was introduced, it emerged that fewer pregnant women were smoking with a fall from 25% to 19%.

That coincided with a drop in premature babies and those born with low birth weight.
Scotland was the first country in the UK to ban smoking in public places, followed by Wales, Northern Ireland and England in 2007.

Dr Daniel Mackay and his colleagues from the University of Glasgow say their findings add to the growing evidence of the wide-ranging health benefits of smoke-free legislation.

They also feel it makes the case for the adoption of such legislation in countries where it does not currently exist.

Andy Cole, chief executive of the special care baby charity Bliss, said: “We welcome the findings of this new study, which highlights a reduction in the number of babies born early or with low birth weight in Scotland, where around 8,000 babies are born each year needing specialist hospital care.”

But he warned that the reasons a baby can be born premature or underweight are complicated and that smoking is just one risk factor.

 

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