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Stopping smoking reduces birth risk of premature babies

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The risk of giving birth to premature or small babies can be cut if expectant mothers quit smoking within the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, according to research.

A study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) says that kicking the habit reduces the risks to those of a non-smoker.

Says Dr Lesley McCowan, associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Auckland: `In women who stopped smoking, rates of spontaneous pre-term birth and small-for-gestational-age infants did not differ from those in non-smokers, indicating that these severe adverse effects of smoking may be reversible.`

The trial of 2,500 pregnant women was divided into three groups: non-smokers, who represented 80% (1,992) of the total, stopped smokers 10% and current smokers 10%.

No difference in baby size and rates of premature births were found between stopped smokers and non-smokers, but there were much higher levels among current smokers.

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