Drive safe: Car accidents are more likely during second trimester

June 07, 2014 2:40 PM by

For a healthy, happy pregnancy and newborn, you have to engage in safe, healthy practices. Eating right and doing exercise while pregnant are just two examples of ways to help safeguard your own health and that of your baby. Other safety measures are important too, like skipping foods to avoid during pregnancy, staying out of hot tubs and forgoing air travel during your third trimester. But a recent study has shed light on another factor that could put your pregnancy at risk: car accidents – especially in the second trimester.

Researchers from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences published findings in the Canadian Medical Association Journal indicating that pregnancy is associated with a significant risk of a serious car crash that requires emergency medical care during the second trimester. The research suggests that about 1 in 50 pregnant women will be in a motor vehicle crash at some point during pregnancy.

Details about the study
The study involved 507,262 pregnant women and looked at whether common symptoms of pregnancy, like nausea, fatigue, insomnia and distraction, could contribute to the risk of a crash requiring emergency medical care. The researchers looked at data for each woman for five years – four years before the baby was born and a year after the birth.

In the first trimester, the car crash rate among the women was almost the same as it was before they got pregnant. The risk increased by about 42 percent during the second trimester. During this period, the rate of ER visits related to traffic accidents rose to about 7.7 visits per year per 1,000 women, whereas it was about 4.3 visits per year per 1,000 women before they were pregnant.

"Even a minor motor vehicle crash during pregnancy could lead to irreparable consequences for mother and child," stated Donald Redelmeier, M.D., lead author of the study. "These findings underscore the importance of prevention and indicate that good prenatal care includes safe driving."

Safe driving practices
Avoiding driving altogether isn't very practical for most women. To reduce your chances of a crash in your second trimester and beyond, all it takes is careful driving. Here are a few quick driving tips to remember when you're on the road.

  • Don't speed
  • Use turn signals
  • Obey traffic signs
  • Yield right of way
  • Wear a seatbelt
  • Minimize distractions
  • Don't drive when you're tired
  • Be more careful in bad weather
  • Don't tailgate
  • Maintain your car.
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