Laws banning smoking in public places have had a positive impact on child health, an international study in the Lancet suggests.

Researchers found a 10% reduction in premature births and severe childhood asthma attacks within a year of smoke-free laws being introduced.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said smoking bans benefitted adults and children.

This is one of the first large studies to look at how anti-smoking laws in different countries and states are affecting the health of children living in those regions.

In this study, researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Maastricht University, Hasselt University in Belgium, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital looked at more than 2.5 million births and almost 250,000 hospital attendances for asthma attacks in children.

Dr Jasper Been, lead study author from the Maastricht University Medical Centre in The Netherlands, said the research on children under 12 was revealing.

Smoking during pregnancy has been shown to have adverse effects on foetal development and pregnant women need to be informed of the risks”

“Our study provides clear evidence that smoking bans have considerable public health benefits for perinatal and child health, and provides strong support for WHO recommendations to create smoke-free public environments on a national level.”

The study also found a 5% decline in children being born very small for their age after the introduction of smoke-free laws.

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