Science and Tech


Pregnant Drivers Might Have More Car Crashes

A new study says pregnant women in their second trimester are more likely to be in a car accident than women who aren't pregnant.
Posted at 8:47 PM, May 12, 2014

Pregnant women have to be careful what they eat, drink, how they exercise ... they even have to keep an eye on what beauty products they use. And, now, a new study might add another worry for moms-to-be: driving.

That's right, simply climbing behind the wheel might be dangerous for some expecting mothers. The study tracked over a half-a-million women in Canada and found those who were pregnant — specifically in the second trimester — were 42 percent more likely to be in a car crash than women who weren't pregnant. (Via KYW-TV, WABC)

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, said the various "physiological and lifestyle changes" involved with pregnancy, such as "intermittent nausea, general fatigue, unintended distraction and sleep disruption," might contribute to the accidents. 

But study co-author Dr. Donald Redelmeier told NBC expectant moms tend not to think of driving as a risky activity.

“I look after pregnant women who ask me extremely unusual questions about scuba diving or hot tubs or airline flights or roller coasters. ... And I’ve never been asked about traffic safety, despite it being a substantially larger threat to mother and child."

And an ABC medical contributor and practicing OB/GYN was shocked by the findings as well. "In more than 10 years and after having delivered well over 1,000 babies, I have never had a patient involved in a motor vehicle accident while pregnant."

Interestingly, the number of accidents for pregnant women dropped significantly after the second trimester and stayed that way until a year after the child's birth. Which has at least one professional questioning the results. (Via Youtube / Dreambabytv)

A New Jersey physician told USA Today the study has some shortcomings: for instance, it doesn't account for what the weather was like during the crash or other medical factors. He also found it odd that accident risk did not increase during the first trimester, when the symptoms we mentioned earlier are often at their most severe.

The results have definitely sparked some flashy headlines, but Redelmeier says he isn't suggesting pregnant women give up the steering wheel. Pregnant or not, the women in the study still had a lower risk of car accident than young men.