Smoking ban reduced pregnancy complications, says study

Issued: Tue, 06 Mar 2012 22:00:00 GMT

The introduction of the ban on smoking in public places in Scotland resulted in a decrease in preterm delivery in pregnancy and small for gestational age rates, according to a new study.

The research, led by Professor Jill Pell in the Institute of Health & Wellbeing at the University of Glasgow, and published in PLoS Medicine, looked at statistics for preterm delivery and gestational age in 716,941single-baby births before and after the introduction of the smoking legislation on 26 March 2006.

BBC Online: Fewer premature births in Scotland following smoking ban

The Scotsman: Smoking ban cuts birth problems

The researchers found that following the introduction of the smoking ban the number of mothers who smoked fell from 25.4% to 18.8%.

There was also a drop of more than 10% in overall preterm deliveries, a 5% drop in the number of infants born small for gestational size, and a drop in 8% of babies born very small for gestational size.

Dr Pell 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.”

The researchers looked at data for babies born between January 1996 and December 2009 extracted from the Scottish Morbidity Record (SMR2) which collected information on all women discharged from Scottish maternity hospitals, including maternal and infant characteristics, obstetric history, clinical management and pregnancy complications. This data also includes postcode details and allowed socioeconomic factors to be incorporated. Preterm delivery is categorised as delivery before 37 weeks

Dr Pell noted: “Irrespective of legislation, many women quit smoking when pregnant because of concerns regarding their infant’s health, and there has been increased awareness of the need to protect children from exposure to tobacco smoke.

 “The potential for tobacco control legislation to have a positive effect on health is becoming increasingly clear.”

The research paper, entitled ‘Impact of Scotland’s Smoke-free Legislation on Pregnancy Complications: Retrospective Cohort Study’, was funded by the Chief Scientist Office is published in the online journal PLoS Medicine.

For more information contact Stuart Forsyth in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 4831 or email

Further information
A copy of the paper, Mackay DF, Nelson SM, Haw SJ, Pell JP (2012) Impact of Scotland’s Smoke-Free Legislation on Pregnancy Complications: Retrospective Cohort Study. PLoS Med 9(2): e1001175. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.100117, is available here.

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