FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-04-05
Expectant mothers sometimes worry that wearing a seatbelt could cause injury to an unborn child, but a recent study may help put their minds at ease.
In a study conducted at the Duke University Medical Center, researchers found that pregnant women involved in traffic accidents are more likely to lose their pregnancies if they are not buckled in. The findings reinforce previous research suggesting that seat belts help keep mothers and babies safe in the event of a crash, Reuters reported.
Thousands of expectant mothers are treated in U.S. hospitals each year for injuries sustained in traffic accidents. In some cases, pregnant women may inadvertently put themselves and their unborn children at risk by choosing not to buckle up, believing incorrectly that it is safer for the fetus. By educating the public about the benefits of seatbelt use during pregnancy, the study’s authors hope to prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths.
To learn more about how seatbelt use affects pregnancy outcomes, the researchers reviewed the hospital records of 126 expectant mothers who had been involved in car accidents during their second or third trimesters. Among those women, 86 were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash and 12 were not. Three women in each group lost their pregnancies — or 3.5 percent of those who were buckled in, compared to 25 percent of those who were unrestrained.
Safer mothers, safer babies
According to the study, first-time mothers were less likely to use a seatbelt than those with more than one child. The study’s lead author suggested that this may be because mothers who are in the habit of buckling their children’s seatbelts may be more likely to buckle their own. Whatever the reasons, however, the study underscores the point that wearing a seatbelt during pregnancy is safer for both mother and child.
When a car accident occurs, seat belts help keep vehicle occupants safe by holding everyone in place. This stops them from hitting each other or the inside of the car, and also prevents them from being thrown from the vehicle. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, approximately 80 percent of unborn babies who die in car accidents could have survived if their mothers had been wearing a safety belt.
To protect themselves and their unborn children, the ACOG advises pregnant women to wear lap and shoulder belts at all times while traveling by car. Lap belts should be worn low and snug across the hip bones, below the belly. Shoulder belts should be worn across the center of the chest and over the shoulder — never under the arm or behind the back.
People who have been injured in traffic accidents may be able to receive compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and other losses resulting from the crash. Contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to learn more about seeking compensation after a vehicle accident.