Should expectant mothers buckle up and make sure the air bag is turned on before driving or riding in a car? Absolutely say researchers in a recent study by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.
Many women are concerned that, in case of an accident, seat belts and /or air bags might harm their unborn child, but according to the study, expectant mothers who are not restrained during a car crash are more likely to lose the pregnancy than those who are.
According to the March of Dimes, nearly 170,000 pregnant women are involved in a motor vehicle accident each year.
"One thing we're always concerned about is (educating) patients on seatbelt use," said Dr. Haywood Brown, the chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University Medical Center and senior author of the new study.
"Nonetheless, like all individuals, some choose and some do not choose to wear their seatbelt," he added.
For the study, Brown and his colleagues searched through the trauma registry at Duke University Hospital. They found 126 cases of women in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters that had been in a car crash and were cared for at the hospital between 1994 and 2010.
What they discovered was that 86 mothers were wearing a seat belt when the crash occurred. Of that group, 3.5 percent or (3) fetuses died.
12 mothers were not wearing a seat belt. Of the unrestrained group, 25 percent or (3) fetuses died.
"The bottom line is, you've got to wear your restraint because it decreases the risk not only for your injuries but injury to your child," Brown told Reuters Health.
Where should the seat belt be placed? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that the seat belt be fitted low across the hipbones and below the belly.
The March of Dimes offers more seat belt and air bag guidelines for pregnant women:
Important news for pregnant women arrives just in time. A new study provides evidence that pregnant women who get the flu shot do not increase the risk of fetal death.
Fifty years ago U.S. heath officials began recommending that pregnant women get the flu shot after the flu pandemic took the lives of so many mothers-to-be. For many years there was concern that the flu shot could cause harm or even death to the developing fetus. This study adds another layer to the many studies done researching whether the flu vaccine and fetal harm exists.
This is the largest study dedicated to looking at the safety and benefits of flu vaccination during pregnancy. "This is the kind of information we need to provide our patients when discussing that flu vaccine is important for everyone, particularly for pregnant women," said Dr. Geeta Swamy, a researcher who studies vaccines and pregnant women at Duke University Medical Center.
Fetal deaths were rare during the study with most occurring in pregnant women who already had the flu. "Vaccination itself was not associated with increased fetal mortality and may have reduced the risk of influenza-related death during the pandemic" of 2009, said the studys team, led by Dr. Siri Haberg of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo.
U.S. experts agree that influenza can be very dangerous in pregnant women.
The study was conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. It tracked pregnancies in Norway in 2009 and 2010 during an international epidemic of a new swine flu strain. Among nearly 26,000 women vaccinated during pregnancy - usually during the second or third trimester - there were 78 fetal deaths, or three per 1,000 pregnancies.
Among about 87,000 pregnant women who were not vaccinated, there were 414 fetal deaths, or close to five per 1,000 pregnancies.
Among all women, vaccination during the study period reduced the likelihood of fetal death by 12 percent, but th