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In second trimester, crash risk rises for pregnant women

With pregnancy there are often a variety of physical and emotional phases that come and go. According to a Reuters Health report filed in New York, a new study indicates that sometimes those changes in the pregnant woman result in a form of distracted driving that can result in car accidents.

“A normal pregnancy is usually accompanied by a lot of fatigue, nausea, mood fluctuations, anxieties and distractions which may all contribute to distracted driving,” the lead author of the Canadian study said.

The research indicates that expectant women are 42 percent more likely to be in a car accident that results in a trip for them to the ER than compared to when they are not pregnant.

The researchers examined data from all the adult women in the Canadian province of Ontario who gave birth between April of 2006 and March of 2011, looking at differences in car accident rates before and after pregnancy.

They discovered that before they became pregnant, their accident rate was 4.6 accidents per 1,000 women. During their second trimester, the accident rate surged to 7.7 per 1,000 women.

The increased rate was found among women of all backgrounds and demographics and was not affected by whether or not the woman had previously given birth.

Researchers are unable to pinpoint the exact reasons for the rise in crash rates during the second trimester (the rate fell later in the pregnancy and following the birth), but the lead author suggests “neurological changes,” even minor ones, might play a significant role in the heightened accident risks.

The researcher said women should continue driving while pregnant, but should take care to follow routine safety tips including obeying speed limits and traffic signals.

Source: Reuters Health, "Pregnancy linked to car crash risk: study," Andrew M. Seaman, May 14, 2014

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