Fetal Deaths in Car Crashes 4x Higher than for Children

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says auto accidents are the single largest cause of death for pregnant women.

“We really do need to get more information and to design vehicles better for this special population,” said Dr. Melissa Schiff, an obstetrician and epidemiologist at the University of Washington’s Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, who has done several studies on motor-vehicle crashes and pregnancy. “It just really flies under the radar — people focus so much on infants and booster seats.”

Ford was said to be a part of the research which was gathering data about dimensions of a fetus, uterus and placenta and how forces effect the tissue. Ford was hoping to use this data to increase the safety features in their vehicles taking into account the safety of pregnant women and their fetus.

The majority of fetal deaths occur when the force of the crash tears the placenta from the uterus, which cuts off oxygen to the fetus.

Fast forward 5 years, so far the best advice for driving while pregnant remains wear the seat belt properly placed low across the hips/pelvis and have the shoulder portion across the chest. There are but few pregnant crash test dummies in research laboratories and even those can’t depict what really goes on inside the womb during a crash.

There are several devices made to help moms-to-be keep the seat belt low but only one engineered and crash-tested to keep the seat belt completely off the abdomen. The Tummy Shield essentially creates a 4-point harness over the upper thighs. Not only does it help protect the fetus and its mother but also helps the mother feel more comfortable in the car thus helping ensure the mother wears her seat belt at all.

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