An estimated 370 fetuses die as a result of car crashes each year in the United States. The research debunks a long-standing myth that wearing a seatbelt is not safe for pregnant women. “Some women are very concerned because the lap belt overlies their fetus. This study shows that the opposite is true, that seatbelts clearly protect the fetus,” says senior author Mark D. Pearlman, M.D., vice-chair in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the U-M Health System.
Pearlman teamed up with researchers from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), the Department of Emergency Medicine and the College of Engineering to study data from 57 severe automobile crashes involving pregnant women. The study, the first of its kind, performed detailed crash analysis, including accurate estimates of the crash severity, restraint usage and pregnancy outcome.
Among the six improperly restrained women, three (50 percent) resulted in fetal death or major fetal complications. Among the ten unbelted women, eight (80 percent) of the instances resulted in fetal death or major complications. Among the properly restrained women, 29 percent of instances resulted in death or complications.
“Given that there are seatbelts in virtually every car in America, the cost effectiveness of a project like this is truly extraordinary,” says lead author Kathleen DeSantis Klinich, Ph.D. Other published research by Pearlman shows that women whose prenatal care provider says anything at all about seatbelt use during prenatal visits are much more likely to wear their seatbelts (92 percent if the physician or nurse mentioned it versus 71 percent if they didn't), according to Pearlman. He encourages health care providers to remind all of their pregnant patients about the importance of using seatbelts.
MEDICA.de; Source: University of Michigan Health System