A smoking ban in Scotland is associated with decreases in pre-term deliveries and underweight babies, a new study finds.
The nationwide ban on smoking in public places took effect in March 2006. The researchers analysed data on pre-term delivery and small-for-gestational-age babies born between January 1996 and December 2009.
The number of mothers who smoked dropped from more than 25% before the smoking ban to about 19% after the ban. The researchers also found that pre-term deliveries fell by more than 10%, while there was a nearly 5% decrease in the number of infants born small and a nearly 8% decrease in the number of infants born very small.
These decreases in pre-term deliveries and underweight babies occurred both in mothers who smoked and in those who had never smoked, a finding that highlights the impact of secondhand smoke, the researchers said.
The study appears online in the journal PLoS Medicine.
"The results of our study add to the growing evidence of the wide-ranging health benefits of smoke-free legislation and lend support to the adoption of such legislation in countries where it does not currently exist," the study authors, led by Jill Pell of the University of Glasgow, concluded.
While researchers found an association between the smoking ban and decreases in pre-term births and low birth-weight babies, the study did not prove those decreases were a direct result of the ban.
Smoking doubles risk of stillbirth
Smoking affects sex of the unborn child
The March of Dimes has more about smoking and pregnancy.
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