Smoking ban cut premature birth

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Posted 21/02/2013

It is believed that public smoking bans have cut the number of children born prematurely and this has been strengthened by new research. A study of 600,000 births found three successive drops in babies born before 37 weeks, each occurring after a phase of the public smoking ban was introduced. According to the research there was no such trend in the period before the bans were put in place. Experts could not fully state that the smoking ban was the cause of the change because pre-term births had started to drop before the ban. However, it is already established that smoking leads to reduced birth weight and an increase risk of premature births. It is thought the changes could not be explained by other factors such as mother’s age or socioeconomic status.The latest study showed that the rate of premature births reduced after each phase of the smoking ban came into force. Public places and work places first introduced smoke free rules in 2006, followed by restaurants in 2007 and bars serving food in 2010. The rate of premature births was found to fall after each phase of the ban with the biggest impact seen after the 2007 and 2010 bans when the rate dropped by around 3% each time. The study leader showed that because the ban had happened at three different moments it was easy to show that there was a consistent pattern of reduction in the risk of pre-term delivery. It supports the notion that smoking bans have public health benefits even from early life.Julie Crossley, a medical injury lawyer at Ashtons Legal, says: “This is quite conclusive evidence that the ban on smoking in public places has made a difference and in particular to babies who would probably previously have been born prematurely and with a low birth weight. It is obviously encouraging news”.


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