Pregnancy Increases Risk of Car Accidents


A surprising new study has found that pregnancy increases the risk of car accidents. According to a recent Canadian study, women who are expecting might be at a much greater risk for motor vehicle crashes than those who are not, particularly throughout the second trimester. The study suggests the would-be mums should be extra careful while driving.

Donald Redelmeier, lead author of the study and a senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, revealed the findings in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Researchers analyzed the medical records of half of a million women who gave birth between the year 2006 and 2011, comparing the women’s accident rates before and after pregnancy to determine if there was a difference. They discovered that women were 42 percent more likely to be in a car crash that resulted in treatment at a hospital emergency room than when they were not expectant moms. It is, however, not completely clear why expectant mothers are at a higher risk, but the researchers say that a mingling of the anxiety and other hormonal pregnancy effects like fatigue, nausea, sleeplessness and backache may make it tougher to keep full attention on the steering wheel.

The researchers reported that the rate of crashes was about 4.6 accidents per 1,000 women before pregnancy, compared to 7.7 accidents per 1,000 women during their second trimester. The greater risk was present regardless of a woman’s demographics and background. It also did not appear to matter if the female already had kids. The risk of a car crash decreases in the third trimester of pregnancy and continues to decrease after birth.

In 1977, Redelmeier, was involved in another research study to find out the connection between car accidents and cellphones. Redelmeier stated that he became interested in the risk of car crashes during pregnancy because in his role as a doctor at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, expecting women would ask about the risk involved in other actions, for example, riding a roller coaster. Redelmeier stated that pregnant women also ask him about scuba diving, sitting in hot tubs and flying on planes, but he never had been asked about vehicle accidents, despite the possible risk.

Although the new research seems to indicate that for expectant mothers, driving can be riskier than one might think, but pregnant women should not be stigmatized based on the findings of the study. In other words, being pregnant while driving is a far cry from driving under the influence or texting at the wheel.

Despite pregnancy increasing the risk of car accidents, Redelmeier pointed out that expectant women should not stop driving because most accidents can be prevented by obeying motor vehicle safety rules. This includes following speed limits as well as yield and stop signs. In simple words, his recommendation is to be a little more careful in this period. He also mentioned that doctors, during their routine visits, ought to remind pregnant women to be extra cautious when behind the wheel.

By Rahad Abir


Toronto Star

The Independent

NBC News

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