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Seat-Belt Safety

Everyone knows the importance of wearing a seat belt in the car, right? It turns out that some pregnant women may need a reminder. A recent study found that nearly 12 percent of pregnant women don't buckle up, which makes them more likely to sustain injuries that can harm their baby.

"Some pregnant women don't wear seat belts because they think it's unsafe to put pressure on the abdomen, they find them uncomfortable, or they just forget," says Lisa K. Hyde, a researcher at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and lead author of the study, which looked at data over a seven-year period.

But not wearing a seat belt is a dangerous choice for pregnant women, adds Hyde. Unbelted women were nearly three times more likely to lose their baby in a motor-vehicle accident than those who were wearing a seat belt, according to the researchers. (In fact, car accidents are the leading cause of traumatic death to a fetus.) Women not wearing a seat belt in a crash were also twice as likely to have excessive maternal bleeding when they gave birth.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that seat belts be worn throughout pregnancy, with lap belts placed under the abdomen and shoulder belts strapped diagonally across the chest. For women who find buckling up uncomfortable, try the Maternity Seat Belt from Inventive Minds, which holds the lower portion of the belt over the woman's upper thighs so it is not tight around the abdomen. For details, visit www.maternityseatbelt.com.

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