Despite some women’s worry that seat belts or air bags could harm a baby in utero in the case of an accident, expectant mothers who are not wearing a seatbelt during a car crash are more likely to lose the pregnancy, according to a U.S. study.
The results, which appeared in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, reinforce the findings of other studies that link seat belts with better chances of keeping both mother and baby alive.
“One thing we’re always concerned about is [educating] patients on seatbelt use,” said senior author Haywood Brown, the chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University Medical Center.
“Nonetheless, like all individuals, some choose and some do not choose to wear their seatbelt.”
To bet a better sense of which women don’t use restraints and how that affects the outcome of their pregnancies, Brown and his colleagues searched through a trauma registry at Duke University Hospital.
They found 126 cases of women in their second and third trimesters who had been in a car crash and cared for at the hospital between 1994 and 2010.
Three fetuses, or 3.5 per cent, died among the 86 mothers who were wearing a seatbelt during the accident. Another three — 25 per cent in this case — died among the 12 mothers who were not wearing a seatbelt.
“The worst thing you can do is have the mother get hurt, and the best way to protect the mother and protect the baby is to have the mother wear a seatbelt,” said Kathleen DeSantis Klinich, a researcher at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, who wasn’t part of the study.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that seat belts should be worn at all times, and the lap belt should be fitted low across the hip bones, below the belly.
Women without a seatbelt were more likely to be first-time mothers than those who wore a seatbelt. Brown said it’s possible that the habit of buckling in children might prompt mothers to put on their own seatbelt.
© Copyright 2013