Are car airbags and seat belts safe for pregnant women?



Many expectant mothers get nervous when they're riding in cars because they aren't sure whether or not they should wear a seat belt or turn the air bags off. Having an airbag deploy or wearing a seat belt the wrong way can sometimes cause the placenta to separate from the uterus—which can be fatal for the mother or the fetus. However, the outcome can be even more devastating when a mother rides in a car without being properly restrained and without the use of airbags. 

According to the March of Dimes, nearly 170,000 pregnant women are involved in motor vehicle accidents every year. In a recent study by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University Medical Center, researchers looked at 126 cases of women in their second and third trimesters that had been in car crashes between 1994 and 2010. They discovered that, of the 86 mothers wearing a seat belt in a car crash, 3 fetuses died (3.5 percent). Twelve mothers were not wearing seat belts, and three of those fetuses died (25 percent). As for the airbags, they came out in 17 of these accidents, and the mothers were more likely to suffer complications. However, another researcher thought that maybe it had to do with the severity of the accident and not necessarily the airbag. Another study from researchers in Washington State found that airbags do not increase the risk of most pregnancy-related injuries. 

To be safe, pregnant women should fit the lap belt under their belly, and move the shoulder belt to between their breasts and off to the side of their belly. Air bags should never be turned off, but pregnant women should try to move their seat as far back as possible from the dashboard or steering wheel. 

If you have been in a car accident in the Austin area, contact Straight Law for a free consultation at 512-454-1331.