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Pregnancy's part in car crashes

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According to a recent study by Donald Redelmeier of the University of Toronto, pregnancy may be hazardous to a woman’s driving health, particularly during the second trimester. However, the perils seemed to decline in the third trimester, leading him to conclude that the problem was more hormone based than anything to do with blossoming bellies getting in the way of steering ability.

“A normal pregnancy is associated with fatigue, nausea, insomnia, anxiety and distraction,” he told USA Today. “All those changes could contribute to driver error.”

Redelmeier based his findings on a 5-year study from 2006-2011 involving 500,000 Canadian expectant mothers, including data collected by Ontario hospitals to see how often the women were involved in serious car crashes during the 3 years before they became pregnant; as well as during each trimester of their pregnancy; and for the first 12 months after giving birth.

What he found was that 42% had a higher risk of getting into an accident during the period when they were 4-6 months along, than either their first or third trimesters, regardless of age, socioeconomic status or other variants. Oddly, he also found that “the safest month for all women turned out to be the last month of pregnancy. In the meantime, their risks dropped to “pre-pregnancy levels once they gave birth.”
Early studies have identified auto accidents as the leading cause of trauma-related fetal deaths.

Note: Redelmeier’s previous study regarding auto accidents found that drivers in the US were more apt to “crash on days when Americans elect presidents.”

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