Fewer Preterm Births Due to Public Smoking Bans?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(GLASGOW, Scotland) -- Do smoking bans mean fewer preterm births?  The answer could be yes, according to a new study published online Tuesday in the journal PLoS Medicine.

After a nationwide smoking ban on public areas in Scotland took effect in 2006, researchers led by Jill Pell of the University of Glasgow found that preterm deliveries dropped by 10 percent, HealthDay reports. The number of infants with low birth weight also decreased by almost five percent (small) and almost eight percent (very small). The researchers noted, according to HealthDay, that decreases in preterm and low birth weight babies were present regardless of whether or not mothers were smokers, underscoring the significance of secondhand smoke.

The researchers found no causal relationship between laws that ban smoking and decreases in preterm births and underweight infants, but say the study's findings do support the consideration of smoke-free legislation.

"The results of our study add to the growing evidence of the wide-ranging health benefits of smoke-free legislation and lend support to the adoption of such legislation in countries where it does not currently exist," the study authors wrote in a journal news release.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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