With the ever-prevalent worry of expectant mothers that being buckled up in their car could potentially cause damage to their unborn child in the event of a car accident, a new study has found that not wearing a seat belt actually serves to increase the chances of losing the pregnancy more than if the mother is properly restrained.
Brandy Thompson with the group “Safe Kids USA” says buckling up is the best way to protect both the unborn child and the mother, but she emphasized that there is a right way and a wrong way to put on a seat belt when pregnant.
“Actually,” Thompson said, “the lap portion of the seat belt needs to be placed securely underneath the baby, underneath the belly; so, crossing on that pregnant woman’s hard hip bones, the seat belt actually should not be interfering with the baby.”
The study found that first-time mothers tend to be overly cautious and thus more likely to drive unrestrained, while women with other children are generally more likely to put on their own seat belt because of the habit of putting their other children in child safety seats.
Thompson said there is also added concern that the impact of an airbag could cause injury to the unborn child, but research again indicated that concern is unfounded. She said it would be beneficial to keep as much space as possible between the mother and the airbag, but the airbag is still a good safety feature.
“Move that driver’s seat or front passenger seat, whichever, back away from where that airbag is going to deploy, trying to keep a 10-inch distance between the center of their chest and the steering wheel or dashboard,” Thompson said.
Duke University Medical Center performed the study, which examined more than 120 car crashes involving pregnant women.