Dangers of Driving While PregnantJanuary 13, 2020
A new study found that pregnant women are more likely to be involved in a car accident compared to other drivers. This does not mean that expectant mothers should completely avoid driving for nine months, but it does mean that they should use extra caution, obey the rules of the road, and consider delegating some of their driving to their husbands, partners, family members, or friends.
According to the lead author of the study, women are at the greatest risk during their second trimester. In fact, doctors say that during this time, a woman’s risk of getting into a car accident is the same as someone who has sleep apnea. Some pregnant women may decide to let their husbands take over the driving responsibilities until after they have their baby, but men have an even higher crash rate then pregnant women. Instead, he urges women to make safety their top priority and drive more carefully.
Details of the Study
The author and his team of researchers studied the medical records of over 500,000 mothers in Ontario, Canada. For each woman, they analyzed data from four years before the baby was born, and a year after the birth. They found the following results:
- First Trimester: The crash rate during this time was comparable to before the pregnancy.
- Second Trimester: The crash rate increased by approximately 42 percent. The rate of emergency room visits during this time increased from 4.3 visits per year per 1,000 women to 7.7 visits per year per 1,000 women.
- Third Trimester: The crash rate is lower than it was prior to pregnancy.
One possible reason for this spike in accidents is hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, particularly during the second trimester. The author was surprised by how the factors like fatigue, insomnia, nausea, and stress can contribute to driver error and the possibility of a serious accident. To complicate matters, if a pregnant woman is injured in a car accident, providing the necessary care can be complicated. For example, standard procedures like CT scans are contraindicated for pregnant women. Expectant mothers are urged to use extra caution when driving throughout her pregnancy, particularly during the second trimester.
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