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Study Supports Seat Belt Use Among Pregnant Women

A new study has demonstrated that pregnant women who are involved in an accident while wearing their seat belts are better off than women who failed to buckle up. This study confirmed the findings of several prior studies showing that a pregnant woman and her baby are more likely to survive a car accident if the woman is wearing a seat belt. Some pregnant women are concerned that a seat belt or air bag could harm their baby in the event of an accident.

The health of a pregnant mother is obviously a factor in the health of the unborn child. Seat belts help pregnant women avoid serious injury in the event of an auto accident. While that benefit alone should convince pregnant women to buckle up, it does not answer concerns about damage to a fetus caused by a seat belt or the deployment of an air bag.

The study identified situations where women in the second or third trimester suffered a car crash that led to trauma. The results were pulled from a trauma registry at the Duke University Hospital and were gathered over the period from 1994 to 2010. During that time period, 3.5 percent of the fetuses of mothers who were wearing seat belts died as the result of the accident. Twenty-five percent died in serious accidents where the mother was not wearing a seat belt.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises women to wear the lap belt low across the hip bones. This places the belt below the belly. The group suggests that every pregnant woman should wear a seat belt.

Source: Reuters, "Buckle up during pregnancy: study," by Kerry Grens, 8 March 2013

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