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Study finds pregnant women should still use their seatbelts

Pregnancy is a life changing experience. Not only are you creating a new life, but for nine months, living in your own body may seem more like an out-of-body experience, where you look different, feel different and sometimes act different. However much your perspective changes, one thing remains absolutely the same: Newtonian physics. The basic equation of Force, F=ma², where "m" is mass and "a²" is acceleration squared.

In a car accident, we see a graphic representation of that equation at work. If you're pregnant, you may think that wearing a seatbelt is dangerous, because it could tighten around your abdomen and injure your baby. A recent study has found that you are safer with a seatbelt on and an operational air bag than without. You should wear the belt below your belly on your hips.

The study was headed by Dr. Haywood Brown, the chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University Medical Center. The researchers examined the trauma registry at Duke University Hospital. They looked car accidents involving 126 women in their second and third trimesters that had been treated at the hospital between 1994 and 2010.

They found that women wearing their seatbelts lost 3.5 percent of their fetuses in car accidents. Women who failed to wear seatbelts suffered a 25 percent loss.

Airbags were triggered in 17 crashes, and women in those incidents were more likely to suffer a separation of the placenta, but a researcher noted that that was probably more a function of the severity of the crash. She suggested that airbags were more likely to be triggered in the types of crashes that could result placental separation.

To protect the fetus, it is most important to protect the mother and seatbelts and airbags still offer the best protection, so buckle up.

Source: Reuters, "Buckle up during pregnancy: study," Kerry Grens, March 8, 2013

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