5,000 fewer babies born with a low birth weight tooWhatever the moral arguments when it comes to the health impacts of smoking on the smoker, things are a lot clearer when it comes to the impacts of smoking on unborn children. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh has found that a 2007 smoking ban that passed in England in 2007 has had big benefits on these most vulnerable and innocent victims of all in just the 4 years following the ban (and no doubt benefits are still accruing since then).
"Smoke-free legislation was associated with an immediate 7.8% reduction in stillbirth, a 3.9% reduction in low birth weight and a 7.6% reduction in neonatal mortality," the authors of the study wrote. "We estimate that in the first four years following smoke-free legislation, 991 stillbirths, 5,470 cases of low birth weight and 430 neonatal deaths were prevented. In conclusion, smoke-free legislation in England was associated with clinically important reductions in severe adverse perinatal outcomes." There was also a reduction in hospital visits related to asthma attacks and respiratory infections for children.
Study analyzed more than 10 million births in England between 1995 and 2011. An 8% reduction in the number of babies dying shortly after birth was found, as well as a 6% drop in stillbirths since the ban took effect.
"Currently, only around 18% of the world's population is protected by comprehensive smoke-free laws. Accelerated action to implement smoking bans in the many countries yet to do so is likely to save considerable numbers of young lives and bring a healthier future for our unborn children," said Dr Jasper Been, honorary research fellow at the University of Edinburgh.