Pregnant Women Are Better Off With Seatbelts in Accidents: Study

Despite concerns by some expecting mothers that seatbelts could harm their unborn child, researchers from Duke University indicate that they have found the use of seatbelts is actually more likely to save the lives of an unborn child and its mother, reinforcing the importance of seat belt use by pregnant women. 

The findings, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology late last month, found that pregnant women who did not use a seatbelt while driving or riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle were at an increased risk of losing their baby. Seatbelts could also prevent some pregnancy-related injuries that may occur in an auto accident, potentially threatening the mother’s life as well.

Researchers looked at medical records involving women who were at 14 weeks or greater gestation and who were sent to emergency departments and obstetric units from January 1994 to December 31, 2010, after being in an auto accident. They found that unrestrained women were more likely to require surgery related to the trauma from the accident. Approximately 25% of unrestrained women lost their babies due to injuries from the accidents, compared with only 3.5% of restrained pregnant women.

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The study did find that in accidents where an airbag deployed, a pregnant woman was more likely to suffer placenta separation, where the placenta comes free from the uterus. This can be life-threatening to both mother and child.

Researchers also found that women who were pregnant for the first time were less likely to use seatbelts than women who had previously had a child. Some experts speculate that this could be because experienced mothers have gotten into the habit of buckling both themselves and their children in before driving.

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