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Motor-Vehicle Crashes during Pregnancy: A Retrospective Cohort Study


Weiss, Harold B.; Sauber-Schatz, Erin K.; & Herring, Amy H. (2011). Motor-Vehicle Crashes during Pregnancy: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Open Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 1(4), 202-207.


Background: The purpose of this study was to assess the risk of motor-vehicle pregnant driver crashes in Pennsylvania using vital statistics linked to police and ambulance reports. This was supplemented with a review of national age and sex specific crash and fertility data to put this risk into perspective and rank the likelihood for pregnancy-related crashes in other states.
Methods: Motor vehicle police crash reports from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation were probabilistically linked to four years of birth and fetal death data and five years of infant death records and ambulance reports. State specific motor-vehicle traffic injury rates (fatal and non-fatal) were compared to birth rates, by age, for women ages 15 - 34.
Results: 5929 (1.1%) of the women with a birth or fetal death linked to a police reported motor vehicle driver crash during pregnancy. One-third (32.5%) of these crashes resulted in minor maternal injuries and 7.5% resulted in moderate to fatal maternal injuries. Crashes were evenly distributed across gestational ages. Young drivers (20 - 24) were at highest risk. Police reported non-belt use was 10%.
Conclusions: This study quantifies the risk of motor vehicle crashes during pregnancy in Pennsylvania and offers a perspective on potential variations in other states. Pregnancy related crashes occur at a higher rate than infant related crashes with a concomitant threat to the fetus and new-born not usually tracked within current crash data systems.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Open Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology


Weiss, Harold B.
Sauber-Schatz, Erin K.
Herring, Amy H.