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Motor vehicle crashes increase risk of birth problems for pregnant women: study

October 23, 2013

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Chapel Hill, NC – Pregnant women involved in a motor vehicle crash have an increased likelihood of birth complications, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Researchers compared motor vehicle crash data to four adverse pregnancy outcomes – preterm birth, placental abruption, premature rupture of the membranes and stillbirth – among a sample of more than 878,000 women who gave birth in North Carolina from 2001 to 2008. Among the findings:

  • Women involved in a crash while pregnant had elevated rates of preterm birth, placental abruption and premature rupture of the membranes, compared to pregnant women who were not involved in a crash.
  • Pregnant women who were not using a safety belt at the time of the crash were nearly 3 times more likely to have a stillbirth than those who were buckled up.
  • The risk of any adverse outcome increased if multiple crashes occurred during the pregnancy.

Researchers said that more research is necessary to further study how multiple crashes and vehicle safety features influence the outcomes of pregnancies.

The study was published online Oct. 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.