Should expectant mothers buckle up and make sure the air bag is turned on before driving or riding in a car? Absolutely say researchers in a recent study by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.
Many women are concerned that, in case of an accident, seat belts and /or air bags might harm their unborn child, but according to the study, expectant mothers who are not restrained during a car crash are more likely to lose the pregnancy than those who are.
According to the March of Dimes, nearly 170,000 pregnant women are involved in a motor vehicle accident each year.
"One thing we're always concerned about is (educating) patients on seatbelt use," said Dr. Haywood Brown, the chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University Medical Center and senior author of the new study.
"Nonetheless, like all individuals, some choose and some do not choose to wear their seatbelt," he added.
For the study, Brown and his colleagues searched through the trauma registry at Duke University Hospital. They found 126 cases of women in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters that had been in a car crash and were cared for at the hospital between 1994 and 2010.
What they discovered was that 86 mothers were wearing a seat belt when the crash occurred. Of that group, 3.5 percent or (3) fetuses died.
12 mothers were not wearing a seat belt. Of the unrestrained group, 25 percent or (3) fetuses died.
"The bottom line is, you've got to wear your restraint because it decreases the risk not only for your injuries but injury to your child," Brown told Reuters Health.
Where should the seat belt be placed? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that the seat belt be fitted low across the hipbones and below the belly.
The March of Dimes offers more seat belt and air bag guidelines for pregnant women: