Study links smoking bans to fewer pre-term births
LONDON (REUTERS) - Banning smoking in enclosed public places can lead to lower rates of preterm birth, according to Belgian researchers who say the findings point to health benefits of smoke-free laws even in very early life.
It is well known that smoking during pregnancy can stunt the growth of unborn babies and shorten gestation, and that second-hand smoke exposure can also effect births, but little was known about the impact of smoking bans on preterm birth rates.
So, a team of researchers led by Dr Tim Nawrot of Belgium's Hasselt University investigated trends in preterm births - before 37 weeks gestation - from 2002 to 2011 covering a period before, during and after the introduction of smoke-free laws.
They found the risk of preterm birth after the introduction of each phase of Belgium's smoking ban, which was implemented in three phases - in public places and most workplaces in January 2006, in restaurants in January 2007, and in bars serving food in January 2010.