Contrary to popular perception, seatbelts are not dangerous in pregnancy and may in fact save women from injuries and avoid fetal deaths in many cases, a new study has indicated.
The study led by researchers at the University of Michigan has revealed that seatbelt use can save about 200 foetuses each year.
"It's very clear, based on this study, that pregnant women should buckle up every single time they're in a vehicle," said Dr Mark D. Pearlman, senior author, vice-chair in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the U-M Health System.
"Our study strongly suggests that about 200 fetuses each year would not lose their lives if women simply buckled up each time.
"Some women are very concerned because the lap belt overlies their fetus. This study shows that the opposite is true, that seatbelts clearly protect the foetus.
"The research debunks a long-standing myth that wearing a seatbelt is not safe for pregnant women," he added.
Pearlman along with the researchers from the U-M Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), the Department of Emergency Medicine and the College of Engineering analysed the data from 57 severe automobile crashes involving pregnant women.
The finding revealed that among six improperly restrained women, three (50 percent) resulted in foetal death or major foetal complications. Among the 10 unbelted women, eight (80 percent) of the instances resulted in foetal death or major complications.
Among the properly restrained women, 29 percent of instances resulted in death or complications.
The study suggests that routine use of seatbelts by pregnant women can prevent 84 percent of serious foetal adverse outcomes due to car accidents.
The study appears in new issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.