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Risk of Car Crash Increases Drastically during Second Trimester of Pregnancy: Study

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
May 15, 2014
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)

Pregnant women worry plenty, but maybe they should worry more about how they drive: researchers from Canada suggest women have more car crashes when they are expecting than they do in the years before or afterward.

pregnancy second trimester Pregnant women who drive appear to be at a significantly higher risk of being in a serious car crash during the second trimester of their pregnancies. During the second trimester of pregnancy, a woman’s odds of being behind the wheel in a multi-vehicle accident that was bad enough to send her to a hospital emergency room were 42% greater than they were in the three years before she became pregnant, according to a study published Monday in CMAJ, the Canadian Medical Assn. Journal.

However, by the third trimester, the risk was significantly lower than it was before pregnancy, and it fell even further in the first year after the women gave birth.

The message here is not to stop driving. The message is to start driving more carefully- Dr. Donald Redelmeier, University of Toronto researcher who studied car crashes among pregnant drivers.

“It amounts to about a 1 in 50 statistical risk of the average women having a motor vehicle crash at some point during her pregnancy,” said Dr. Redelmeier.
One of the authors places the blame partly on so-called "pregnancy brain" – the foggy thinking many women report as pregnancy progresses.

"A normal pregnancy is associated with fatigue, nausea, insomnia, anxiety and distraction," added Dr. Redelmeier. "All those changes could contribute to driver error."

Redelmeier and colleagues looked at records for more than 500,000 women who gave birth in Ontario. The women were tracked for four years before and one year after the births. The researchers counted each car crash that was serious enough for a woman to show up in an emergency room.

He also stated that earlier studies have shown that for every life-threatening car crash there are about 13 others that don’t end up in a visit to the emergency department. “We estimate that about one in 50 women will be involved in a crash of some severity during some month of the average pregnancy, i.e. at one in 50 absolute risk, making it more common than pre-eclampsia or blood clots during pregnancy.”

Women from all walks of life became more vulnerable during this period, the researchers found. The increased crash risk was seen in all women regardless of age, socioeconomic status, whether their babies were born early, the gender of their babies and most other factors. Time of day, week and year also had no effect. The only characteristic that seemed to influence the crash rate in the second trimester was whether the women lived in urban or rural areas (it was higher for city drivers).

Source: National Post, Los Angeles Times
Image Source: Getty Images

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