-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, March 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Bans on smoking in
public places and the workplace in North America and Europe are
linked to a 10 percent drop in premature births and the number of
children going to the hospital for an asthma flare-up, according to
a new study.
The study authors said this positive trend occurred within one
year of smoke-free policies being put into effect. They added that
their findings show smoking bans have significant health benefits
for both adults and children.
The study was published online March 28 in the journal
"Our research found significant reductions in preterm birth and severe asthma attacks in childhood, as well as a 5 percent decline in children being born very small for gestational age after the introduction of smoke-free laws," Dr. Jasper Been, of the Maastricht University Medical Centre, in the Netherlands, said in a journal news release.
"Together with the known health benefits in adults, our study provides clear evidence that smoking bans have considerable public-health benefits for perinatal and child health, and provides strong support for [World Health Organization] recommendations to create smoke-free public environments on a national level," Been said.
The researchers examined five North American studies on local
smoking bans and six European studies focused on national
smoke-free policies. The review involved a combined 2.5 million
births and almost 250,000 asthma flare-ups among children.
Study co-author Professor Aziz Sheikh said the new study shows
the potential that smoke-free laws have to decrease premature
births and childhood asthma.
"The many countries that are yet to enforce smoke-free legislation should in the light of these findings reconsider their positions on this important health policy question," said Sheikh, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
The study authors said comprehensive smoking bans cover just 16
percent of the world's population, and 40 percent of children are
regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. Young people account for
more than 25 percent of all deaths and more than 50 percent of all
healthy years of life lost to secondhand smoke exposure.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on
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