Mar 6 2012
Complications in pregnancy have fallen as a result of the ban on smoking in public places, according to a new study.
Researchers found the ban, introduced almost six years ago, has led to a decrease in the number of babies being born before they reach full term.
It has also reduced the number of infants being born underweight.
Legislation outlawing smoking in enclosed public places, such as pubs and restaurants, came into force in Scotland on March 26 2006.
The research team, led by Professor Jill Pell of the University of Glasgow's Institute of Health and Wellbeing, looked at more than 700,000 single-baby births before and after the introduction of the ban.
They discovered that the number of mothers who smoked fell from 25.4% to 18.8% after the new law was brought in.
Experts further found there was a drop of more than 10% in the overall number of babies born "preterm", which is defined as delivery before 37 weeks' gestation. There was also a 5% drop in the number of infants born under the expected weight, and a fall of 8% in babies born "very small for gestational size".
Dr Pell said the research highlighted the positive health benefits which can stem from tobacco control legislation.
She said: "These findings add to the growing evidence of the wide-ranging health benefits of smoke-free legislation and support the adoption of such legislation in other countries which have yet to implement smoking bans.
"These reductions occurred both in mothers who smoked and those who had never smoked. While survival rates for preterm deliveries have improved over the years, infants are still at risk of developing long-term health problems so any intervention that can reduce the risk of preterm delivery has the potential to produce important public health benefits."