Pregnant women have an increased risk of being in a car accident. Because of the close proximity of the abdomen to the steering wheel an unborn baby can easily suffer injury.
Most women make lifestyle changes such as limiting caffeine and staying away from alcohol and amusement park rides to protect their unborn babies. What many do not consider are the dangers posed by car accidents. Each year an estimated 300 to 1,000 unborn children die in car accidents, which is almost four times the rate for little ones under the age of four.
Trauma is a leading cause of injury for mothers and their unborn babies. The blunt force of a steering wheel to the abdomen in a rear-end collision can harm shared organ systems and fetal organs.
Investigators in a study that reviewed data on almost a million pregnant women in North Carolina looked at the correlation between accidents and pre-term delivery, placental abruption (when the placental lining separates from the uterus), pre-term labor brought on by ruptured membranes and stillbirth.
Pregnant drivers who were involved in accidents had higher rates of each of the above negative outcomes. Even when a crash caused no documented injuries at the time, there still could be a heightened risk that infants were delivered pre-term and at a lower birth weight compared with women not in crashes.
Based on such findings, careful maternal and fetal monitoring is important following even seemingly minor crashes. There are three main ways to keep mom and baby safe while driving during pregnancy.
Protecting the pregnant driver
The most important is to wear a seat belt correctly with the lap belt across the pelvis and shoulder belt across the chest. Never sit on the shoulder belt or leave it under an arm even if it rubs.
Keep the airbags switched on, because they will work together with the seat belt to provide protection in a crash.
Move the driver’s seat as far back from the steering wheel as possible. Some vehicles allow a driver to adjust the height of the brake and gas pedals others may require pedal extenders for a shorter driver.
A pregnant driver injured in a car accident needs close monitoring to ensure maternal and fetal health and recovery. An insurer may challenge causation of fetal injuries, so it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. When a negligent driver causes a crash, remedies are available. They may include the payment of medical costs and lost wages along with compensation for pain and suffering.
Keywords: Motor vehicle accident, negligence, pregnant driver, prenatal harm,