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Early births fall after smoking ban

Tags: pregnancy , smoking

The number of babies born prematurely has fallen since the introduction of the smoking ban, new research suggests.

Babies born prematurely can suffer from significant health problems, but since the law banning smoking in public places came into force figures suggest the risk of pre-term delivery has reduced. Recent smoking bans in Belgium were examined in the study. Here, bans were implemented in three stages over a four year period; in public places and most workplaces in January 2006, in restaurants in January 2007 and in bars serving food in January 2010. An analysis then took place of the data surrounding 606,877 babies born in Flanders between 2002 and 2011.

A pre-term birth is classed as such if the baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Researchers found reductions in the risk of pre-term birth after each phased smoking ban was introduced. The paper, published on bmj.com, states that the risk was reduced by 3.13% after the ban came into force on January 2007, and a further 2.65% reduction was seen after the January 2010 ban implementation.
      
The study authors claim that the study shows a consistent pattern of reduction in line with the public restrictions on smoking, as they comment: "It supports the notion that smoking bans have public health benefits even from early life. More and more countries in Europe are adopting stricter legislation on smoking in public places. These results underscore the public health benefit of smoking ban policies."  

Louise Silverton, director of midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives said that a large body of evidence supports the negative impact of smoking on pregnant women and their developing child.

Copyright Press Association 2013

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