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Polus, Stephanie; Burns, Jacob; Hoffmann, Sabine; Mathes, Tim; Mansmann, Ulrich; Been, Jasper V.; Lack, Nicholas; Koller, Daniela; Maier, Werner and Rehfuess, Eva A. (2021): Interrupted time series study found mixed effects of the impact of the Bavarian smoke-free legislation on pregnancy outcomes. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 11, No. 1, 4209

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In 2007 the German government passed smoke-free legislation, leaving the details of implementation to the individual federal states. In January 2008 Bavaria implemented one of the strictest laws in Germany. We investigated its impact on pregnancy outcomes and applied an interrupted time series (ITS) study design to assess any changes in preterm birth, small for gestational age (primary outcomes), and low birth weight, stillbirth and very preterm birth. We included 1,236,992 singleton births, comprising 83,691 preterm births and 112,143 small for gestational age newborns. For most outcomes we observed unclear effects. For very preterm births, we found an immediate drop of 10.4% (95%CI -15.8, -4.6%;p=0.0006) and a gradual decrease of 0.5% (95%CI -0.7, -0.2%, p=0.0010) after implementation of the legislation. The majority of subgroup and sensitivity analyses confirm these results. Although we found no statistically significant effect of the Bavarian smoke-free legislation on most pregnancy outcomes, a substantial decrease in very preterm births was observed. We cannot rule out that despite our rigorous methods and robustness checks, design-inherent limitations of the ITS study as well as country-specific factors, such as the ambivalent German policy context have influenced our estimation of the effects of the legislation.

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