Many parents drive with extra caution when their children are in the vehicle. However, a new study reveals that those with unborn children – specifically, women in their second trimester – may need to be even more careful on the roads, as they are 40 percent more likely to crash than they before or after pregnancy.
Car accident lawyers in New York City note study authors are not suggesting pregnant women should not drive. What they are saying is that a host of factors contribute to a heightened risk of a crash during mid-pregnancy — and pregnant women need to be aware of the risks.
The reality is that auto accidents are the No. 1 cause of death for pregnant women. In fact, more women in the U.S. die in car accidents than from birthing complications. Part of that has to do with the fact that car crashes are the leading cause of death for everyone between the ages of 25 and 35. However, what this new research indicates is that women who are pregnant are at higher risk of a crash than they were before or after child birth.
Published this month in the Canadian Medical Assn. Journal, researchers analyzed data involving 500,000 pregnant women between 2006 and 2011. They looked at their crash risk in the four years prior to the pregnancy, then during every trimester of the pregnancy and then one year post-pregnancy.
Results for pre-pregnancy crash risks worked out to about 4.55 crashes per 1,000 women. That’s a fairly high figure to start with, as the national rate is about 2 per 1,000, but again, we’re dealing with a younger cohort, so the numbers skew high.
During the first month of the first trimester, the crash rate remained about the same. This is logical, considering that during the first month, most women don’t even know they are pregnant and there aren’t usually any significant bodily changes during this time.
However, in the second month and up through the sixth month, the crash rate began to climb, peaking at 7.66 crashes per 1,000 people. That’s a 68 percent increase from the baseline. Overall in the second trimester, the rate was 6.47 per 1,000, which is an increase of 42 percent from pre-pregnancy.
The figure then dropped again sharply in the third trimester and declined through the first year after birth.
Researchers say there are a number of things going on here. Normal pregnancies are often associated with nausea, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety and distraction. There’s even a common phenomenon called “pregnancy brain” that refers to a distinct lack of mental clarity during pregnancy. All of these things have a significant impact on a person’s ability to drive.
The risk of an accident is especially concerning for a pregnant woman because even a low-impact crash can cause a condition that causes the placenta and uterus to detach. It’s a delicate attachment to begin with, and even a relatively small jolt can cause it. It’s the reason cited in 80 percent of fetus deaths following a crash.
Pregnant drivers are advised to always wear a properly-placed seat belt and keep the airbags turned on.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Driving While Pregnant Is Riskier Than You Might Think, May 12, 2014, By Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR
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