While many precautions are taken to protect the life of a growing fetus, such as regular doctors visits and abstaining from harmful activities, women face serious risks by driving a car while pregnant. That is because if a car accident occurs, the pregnant woman and the fetus may face serious injuries, even if the crash was minor.
While no fetal death numbers as a result of car accidents are recorded by the government, according to the New York Times, it is estimated that 300 to 1,000 unborn children die in car crashes. That number is more than 4 times higher than the fatality rate for infants and children up to age 4.
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2005 documented that the risks for pregnant women in car accidents extends to pregnant women who are involved in minor crashes and have no visible injuries. Car crash victims who were pregnant at the time of accident are at a far greater risk of injury than women who were not pregnant when involved in a car accident.
The study recommended that pregnant women who are involved in a car accident undergo thorough evaluations and pregnancy-long monitoring to protect the health of the baby and woman.
RISKS OF A CAR ACCIDENT WHILE PREGNANT
The main risk posed by car accidents is that the placenta may become unattached, also called placental abruption, during the violent motion that usually follows even minor car crashes. The steering wheel is also a significant problem and can cause serious complications, as well as fetal death, when the pregnant woman's belly collides with the wheel. The risk increases as the woman's belly grows larger.
There are some safety precautions that pregnant women can take while riding or driving a car:
- Always wear a seat belt.
- Position the seat as far back as possible from the steering wheel
- Leave airbags on while riding in the vehicle
- Avoid engaging in distracted driving
If involved in a car accident, no matter how minor the accident is, a pregnant woman should always seek immediate medical attention. It is also important to inform the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) who arrives on scene of a pregnancy as soon as possible when the ambulance arrives.