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Am J Lifestyle Med. 2012;6(3):241-249.

Motor vehicle safety during pregnancy.

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Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


Motor vehicle crashes during pregnancy are the leading cause of traumatic fetal mortality and serious maternal injury morbidity and mortality in the United States, injuring approximately 92,500 pregnant women each year. Little is known about the circumstances surrounding these crash events and the maternal characteristics that may increase women's vulnerability to crash-related injuries during pregnancy. Even less is known about the effects of crashes on fetal outcomes. Crash simulation studies using female anthropomorphic test devices and computational models have been conducted to better understand the mechanisms of maternal and fetal injuries and death resulting from motor vehicle crashes. In addition, several case reports describing maternal and fetal outcomes following crashes have been published in the literature. Only a few population-based studies have explored the association between motor vehicle crashes and adverse maternal and/or fetal outcomes and even fewer have examined the effectiveness of seat belts and/or airbags in reducing the risk of these outcomes. This paper reviews what is presently known about motor vehicle crashes during pregnancy, their effects on maternal and fetal outcomes, and the role of vehicle safety devices and other safety approaches in mitigating the occurrence and severity of maternal crashes and subsequent injuries. In addition, this paper suggests interventions targeted towards the prevention of crashes during pregnancy.


Motor vehicle; fetal injury; maternal injury; pregnancy

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