Photo by DragonLuv
Airbags have been put into cars because research shows they save lives. On the other hand, they've been shown to injure children and infants. What about unborn babies? Should pregnant women sit near airbags?
A new study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology says yes. Researchers at the University of Washington collected data on 3.348 pregnant women involved in car accidents and compared the outcome of the accidents in cars with and without airbags. They found that moms-to-be and fetuses were not at an increased risk of injury if the car had airbags.
They found that for most pregnancy complications (placental detachment from the uterine wall, fetal distress, and C-section delivery), there was no evidence of a higher risk for women whose crash involved an airbag deployment
However, they did find a 70 percent increase in preterm labor and a threefold increase in fetal death in those accidents in which the air bags were deployed, compared with cars without air bags. But the researchers say that's nothing to worry about. There were "only two fetal deaths in each group, and the small numbers make it difficult to draw conclusions," noted the researchers. More study will be needed to see if there really is a connection between air bag deployment and preterm labor or fetal death.
"Air bags are safe for most outcomes," said lead researcher Dr. Melissa A. Schiff, "But the best protection for pregnant women comes from wearing a seat belt."
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), recommends that pregnant women always wear a lap-shoulder belt, with the lap belt sitting across the hip bones (below the belly) and the shoulder strap across the center of the chest. You should also keep their seat as far back from the dashboard as possible.
(This is general advice, but definitely check with your own health professional with any questions while pregnant.)
Does your car have an air bag? Does this study make you feel more or less safe?