When a person is injured in a car accident, their lives are often turned upside down as they now must learn how to handle and cope with their day-to-day challenges. However, no one is at more risk for life-threatening complications from car accidents than pregnant women and their unborn babies. In fact, even the smallest injuries sustained in an accident can lead to major birth complications.
According to the United Press International, Inc., a new study indicated that “pregnant women involved in traffic collisions are at heightened risk of potentially serious birth complications, even if the wreck only involves minor injuries.” The study was conducted in Taiwan from 2007 to 2016, but the results can apply to anyone. Some of the complications mentioned in the study include:
- Heavy bleeding
- Needing a cesarean section (c-section)
- Dislodging of the placenta
- Prolonged uterine contractions
What were the conclusions of the study?
During the nine years of the study, about 20,740 pregnant women in Taiwan experienced a motor vehicle accident. Their birthing experiences were compared to women who were pregnant and the same ages. The difference is that those women were never in a motor vehicle accident while pregnant. The conclusions were:
- 51 percent of the women who were in motor vehicle accidents were more likely to have placental abruption.
- 31 percent of the women who were in motor vehicle accidents were more likely to have prolonged uterine contractions.
- 19 percent were more likely to suffer from antepartum hemorrhage.
- 5 percent were more likely to need cesarean section (c-section) delivery.
Even women who had minor injuries from the motor vehicle accidents were at high risks of experiencing these birthing issues.
What if a pregnant woman has no symptoms or signs of an injury after a car accident?
No matter who you are, you should always seek medical attention after a car accident, even if you don’t exhibit signs of injury. It can take hours, days, or even weeks for injuries to show up, and your unborn baby can be harmed without you knowing it. If you do not see a medical provider as soon as possible following a collision, this can lead to serious birth complications that may have been monitored or prevented if treated more promptly. In addition, long-term complications for the pregnant mother and baby are likely to occur.
It is highly recommended that a pregnant woman visits an emergency room, clinic, urgent care, or a primary care physician immediately after being involved in a car accident. Being checked by a licensed medical provider will not only make sure that you and your baby are unharmed, but it will also give you peace of mind going forward knowing if the collision caused any complications that you should be aware of.
What risks do mothers-to-be face after a car accident?
Car accidents are known to cause severe harm and injuries to the individuals involved. However, if any of the individuals are pregnant, the risk of injuries and complications increases not only for them but also for their unborn children. Besides the ones already mentioned in the study above, here are a few other common complications that may emerge after a car accident:
- Preterm birth: A preterm birth is when a woman gives birth to a baby before she reaches full-term, which is 40 weeks. If a baby is born too early, they may have severe complications or even die.
- Miscarriage: When a woman loses a baby before the 20-week mark, this is considered a miscarriage. Miscarriages not only lead to mental and emotional distress, but they also cause cramps, back pain, and severe bleeding.
- Stillbirth: Women who have a stillbirth deliver a baby that has passed away before or during labor or delivery. This occurs after the 20-week gestational period.
- Fetal injuries: While the pregnant mother may have no direct injuries, the fetus or baby can suffer injuries. This usually comes from the force or impact of the accident. The most common fetal injuries are head injuries, brain injuries, splenic ruptures, and more.
- Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM): PROM is described as “the rupture of gestational membranes prior to the onset of labor.” This is a very serious condition that occurs before the 37-week mark.
- Maternal death: Depending how severe the car accident or injuries were, the pregnant mother may succumb to her injuries and pass away. When this happens, the baby may need to be delivered immediately via cesarean section. However, if this is impossible or it is too early into the pregnancy, the fetus will not survive.
Who is liable when a car crash causes harm to an unborn child and/or mother?
If you or your unborn child suffer harm because of a car accident, the at-fault driver may be liable for that harm. If the collision involves a commercial driver, the company which employs that driver may also be held liable.
However, if a pregnant woman goes to a hospital or emergency room after a car accident and she is turned away, untreated, or misdiagnosed, the hospital may be held liable for her birth complications. Once you are in the care of a hospital, the doctors, nurses, and physicians are responsible for identifying your injuries and treating them as quickly as possible. This means that they should listen to your symptoms, run tests, check the fetus, and possibly even perform a c-section if necessary. If any of these steps are dismissed, ignored, or delayed, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the hospital for your birth complications.
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