With pregnancy there are health risks, which is well known. Drinking, eating, and smoking habits must change when a woman is pregnant in order to ensure the health of the child. But, a new study has identified that pregnant women’s driving habits must change as well.
Pregnant women are at greater risk of being seriously injured behind the wheel if they get in car accidents.
According to an article from the LA Times, a woman’s odds of being sent to the hospital emergency room were 42% greater during her second trimester of pregnancy than before she got pregnant.
Simply put, pregnant women’s bodies are going through a lot of physiological changes and they are more vulnerable and susceptible to injury, especially in car accidents. The Canadian research team that conducted the study focused on women in their second trimester for this reason: it is at that time of the pregnancy that women feel most like themselves.
When the annoyances that accompany pregnancy, such as fatigue and nausea, begin to fade after the first trimester and women begin to feel more “normal,” they are less likely to change their behavior on account of the big changes that are happening in their bodies.
Researchers determined that during the first month of the second trimester, pregnant women’s crash rate soared from 4.33 collisions to 7.66 collisions per 1,000 women— it is the most dangerous time for pregnant women behind the wheel.
The increased crash risk was seen in all women, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, and other factors. The time of day, week, or year also had no effect. The only standout factor? Pregnant women who live and drive in cities are at slightly greater risk.
The safest month for pregnant women behind the wheel turned out to be the last month of pregnancy, when the baby is very much on the way. The key takeaway is that pregnant women must always take in to consideration that they are more vulnerable behind the wheel than they were before pregnancy — even if they feel the same.
One of the lead researchers put it best: “The message here is not to stop driving…the message is to start driving more carefully.”
If you know someone who is pregnant, share this information with her. If you are pregnant, take this study in to consideration next time you get behind the wheel — it could save two lives.