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Pregnant women at risk for injury in summer


Lifestyle impacts safety

Most pregnant women don’t drink, speed, or behave recklessly; yet many will end up in trauma rooms across Canada this summer.

According to a new study, to be published in the Journal of Trauma’s July issue, led by Dr. Donald Redelmeier, Director of Clinical Epidemiology and a practicing physician at Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre, risks are too high for pregnant women during the summer, amounting to approximately one major trauma case per day in Canada.

"What this implies is that the summer surge in trauma rates is not caused by alcohol or reckless behaviour alone, as pregnant women generally stay away from these activities," said Redelmeier, who is also a Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. "Everyday lifestyle has a larger impact on the individual’s safety."

The study looked at all pregnant trauma patients admitted to Canadian hospitals between April 1, 1994 through March 31, 2001. During the seven years 2,618 pregnant women were admitted for major trauma, amounting to about one in every thousand pregnancies and about 150 extra events in the summer. This 12 per cent increase in the summer is noticeably larger than the nine per cent increase that occurs for the general population.

The study found that injuries sustained by pregnant women were due to common activities. This indicates that pregnant women cannot eliminate risk by avoiding obvious hazards like extreme sports and alcohol. The consequences of their injuries were substantial with about 40 per cent of women requiring surgery and ten per cent staying in hospital for more than a week.

"Treating pregnant women who sustain major trauma is very worrisome for both the patient, family, and health care professionals," says Redelmeier. "Because most medications and surgeries have uncertain risks for these patients, prevention is a much better solution."

"Many people undervalue established methods of injury prevention like buckling up properly in the car," says Redelmeier. "Even pregnant women undervalue these methods." Other methods of injury prevention include slowing down and not rushing, using recommended protective gear like bicycle helmets, wearing sensible footwear, and minimizing distractions while driving, like cell phones.

Laura Bristow | EurekAlert!
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