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Buckle Up Tips for Moms-To-Be

PHOTO: Expectant mothers should buckle up; it's safer for them and their pregnancy. Courtesy of Microsoft Images.
PHOTO: Expectant mothers should buckle up; it's safer for them and their pregnancy. Courtesy of Microsoft Images.
March 14, 2013

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Expectant mothers worry that having a seat belt buckled could damage their unborn child in a crash, but a new study finds that not wearing a seat belt actually increases a woman's chances of losing a pregnancy from those if she is restrained.

The best way to protect an unborn child is to protect the mom-to-be, said Brandi Thompson, a spokeswoman for Safe Kids USA, although she noted that there are right and wrong ways to put on a seat belt when pregnant.

"The lap belt needs to be placed securely underneath the baby, underneath the belly," she said. "So, crossing on that pregnant woman's hard hip bones."

The study found that overly cautious first-time mothers are more likely to drive unrestrained, and women with other children are typically prompted to put on their own seat belt by being in the habit of putting their other children in child safety seats.

Maryland's general seat belt use rate is almost 90 percent, better than the national average.

Mothers-to-be worry that impact with an air bag could cause injury to an unborn child, Thompson said, but the research indicates that fear also is unfounded. It would help, she said, to keep as much space as possible between mom and the air bag.

"Move that driver's seat or front passenger seat, whichever, back," she said, "trying to keep a 10-inch distance between the center of their chest and the steering wheel or dashboard."

Duke University Medical Center did the research, looking at more than 120 car crashes that involved pregnant women. The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is online at ajog.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD