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Smoking bans linked to progressively lower risk of preterm birth

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Preterm birth risk lower with each phase of smoking bans in European study.

Study results from a team of researchers at Hasselt University in Belgium links smoking bans to lower rates of preterm birth.

Before smoking bans in public places were implemented, researchers for the study note rates of premature births remained the same for years.

The risk of having a baby born prematurely declined 3.13 percent on January 1, 2007, which correlates with a ban on smoking in restaurants.

Preterm birth rates, defined as delivering a baby before 37 weeks gestation, continued to decline as each phase of smoke-free legislation was implemented in Belgium.

No studies have previously shown the effect on birth outcomes of restricting tobacco use in public places.

After January 10, 2010, investigators for the study found a further reduction in risk for preterm birth that paralleled banning smoking in bars serving food.

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The study included an analysis of 606,877 live, single-born babies delivered at 24-44 weeks of gestation in Flanders from 2002 to 2011.

"Our study shows a consistent pattern of reduction in the risk of preterm delivery with successive population interventions to restrict smoking. It supports the notion that smoking bans have public health benefits even from early life, the authors write.

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."

Past studies have shown secondhand smoke exposure during pregnancy can lead to impaired motor skill development in babies. The current finding is published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The analysis adds to a growing body of evidence and that supports legislation banning smoking in public places for improving public health.

Smoking during pregnancy is known to impaired growth and development of the fetus and can lead to premature delivery. Until now little was known about the effect of smoke-free laws on birth weight and preterm delivery.

Source: BMJ
Feb 13, 2013

Image credit: Morguefile