According to Medical News Today on Tuesday, a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicates that motor vehicle crashes can be hazardous for pregnant women, especially if they are not wearing a seat belt when the accident occurs.
Trauma is a leading cause of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. Blunt abdominal trauma is of particular concern to a pregnant woman and her fetus since it can directly and indirectly harm fetal organs as well as shared maternal and fetal organ systems.
Pregnant women are bombarded with information about what is good or bad for their baby, but surprisingly, advice about wearing seat belts when traveling in cars is not usually included.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 6,400 adults are injured in car crashes every day and that the risk of serious injury and death is reduced by 50% when wearing a seat belt.
Although the number of people wearing seat belts is increasing, 1 in 7 adults do not wear one on every trip.
Investigators in the new study focused on four pregnancy outcomes: preterm birth, placental abruption (where the placental lining becomes separated from the uterus), premature rupture of the membranes (which can bring on labor) and stillbirth.
They found that compared with women who were not involved in an auto accident, pregnant drivers had elevated rates of preterm birth, placental abruption, and premature rupture of the membranes after a single crash.
While previous studies had only looked at the link between one crash and adverse pregnancy outcomes, this new study also looked at women who had been involved in multiple motor vehicle collisions during their pregnancies.
Following a second or subsequent crash, investigators found pregnant women had more highly elevated rates of preterm birth, placental abruption, premature rupture of the membranes and stillbirth.
The investigators also found that the rates of these unfavorable outcomes increased as the number of crashes increased.
Regardless of the number of crashes, stillbirth rates were elevated following accidents involving unbelted pregnant drivers.
Dr Catherine Vladutiu, of the University of North Carolina concluded:
Doctors should be aware of these effects and should advise pregnant women about the risk of being in a crash and the long-term consequences that crashes can have on their pregnancies'.
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Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.
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