Pregnant women in their second trimester may be more than 40 percent more likely to crash than they were before or after their pregnancy, according to results of a team’s Canadian study.
While this first-of-its-kind study doesn’t explain reasons for this uptick, some posit that it could be so-called “pregnancy brain,” a foggy mental state many women report. Others say it could simply be that pregnant women are more likely to seek medical treatment when they have suffered any kind of injury following a crash.
This, at least, is good news, as our Spartanburg car accident lawyers know that both mother and child could be at risk for serious injury even as a result of a relatively minor impact.
Specifically, there is a serious condition known as placental abruption, which is when the placenta either totally or partially separates from the uterus. It can occur even in crashes that don’t appear all that bad, and with minimal symptoms initially. Yet, it can be fatal to the fetus if not treated immediately.
The new study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal analyzed the driving and medical records of some 500,000 women who gave birth in Ontario. These records were culled in the four years prior to pregnancy, at each phase of pregnancy and then for one year after.
What they discovered was that these woman had an annual crash rate of 4.5 per 1,000. This is rather high to begin with, though that likely has something to do with the average age of the women. Younger drivers in general have poorer driving records.
This figure stayed about the same during the first month of pregnancy. However, the crash risk began to increase from there, peaking at a rate of 7.6 per 1,000 at around the fourth month. Post-pregnancy, the rate fell to 2.7 per 1,000.
In many ways these figures make sense. In the first month of pregnancy, a woman wouldn’t know she’s pregnant, and therefore driving behavior likely wouldn’t change much. However, as she moves into the second trimester, a woman will begin to experience a host of ailments, even in a perfectly normal gestation. These can include nausea, vomiting, insomnia, anxiety, fatigue and increased distraction.
So it’s understandable that all of these factors combined might drive up the crash risk.
However, researchers noted only those crashes that were serious enough for hospital emergency room visits. Again, it’s a fair assumption that a woman who is pregnant is more likely to seek medical care following a crash than a woman who isn’t.
The crash risk decreases during the third trimester and after birth, likely because late-term pregnant women and new mothers may reduce their overall travel. Also, they may drive more carefully when they do go out, hyper-conscious that they are now responsible for the well-being of this other, little person.
Researchers were quick to shut down any assertion that pregnant drivers are dangerous or should limit their driving. Rather, they stressed that those who are pregnant should take extra care behind the wheel. That’s advice we could all use.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Study: Pregnant drivers may have more car crashes, May 12, 2014, By Kim Painter, USA Today
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Fatal Teen Crash in South Carolina a Stark Reminder of Spring Risks, April 29, 2014, Spartanburg Car Accident Lawyer Blog