Scotland’s smoking ban linked to fewer premature births

The number of babies born prematurely or with a low birth weight has dropped 10% since the smoking ban was introduced in Scotland in 2006, say researchers

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Scotland’s ban on smoking in public places is linked to a 10% drop in the country’s premature birth rate, say researchers.

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University of Glasgow researchers looked at smoking and birth rates for more than 700,000 women over a period of about 14 years before and after the ban.

After the legislation was introduced in 2006, they found 19% of mums-to-be smoked, compared with 25% before. At the same time there was a significant drop in the number of babies born prematurely or with low birth weight.

While it’s not proof of a causal effect, researchers say there’s a link and their findings “add to the growing evidence of the wide-ranging health benefits of smoke-free legislation”.

Smoking in pregnancy has been linked to a higher chance of miscarriage and low birth weight, while new research shows it also significantly increases the risk of serious birth defects.

Andy Cole, chief executive of the special care baby charity Bliss, welcomed the findings. “However, it is important to remember that the reasons a baby can be born premature or underweight are complicated and that smoking is just one risk factor,” Andy added.

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