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Can a car accident cause a miscarriage?

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car accidents can be traumatic under any circumstance, but the physical and emotional injuries associated with one can be massively compounded when the victim of a wreck is pregnant. 

One of the most tragic consequences of a car wreck involving a pregnant woman is the loss of her unborn child through miscarriage.

How risky is a car accident to an unborn child?

It isn’t entirely clear how many miscarriages are caused by motor vehicle accidents. Losses when the infant is under 20 gestational weeks of age are not figured into the known statistics, but it is estimated that between 1500 and 5000 fetal losses are caused by such crashes. 

Car accidents can lead to miscarriage through:

  • Direct trauma to the abdomen: A direct blow to a pregnant woman’s abdomen during a collision can happen if a foreign object enters the car or the woman is thrown against the steering wheel or dashboard.
  • Seatbelt and airbag injuries: Seatbelts and airbags save lives – but they are not designed with a pregnant woman’s body in mind. The lap belt and the airbag alike can cause significant trauma to the child she is carrying.
  • Stress and shock: The emotional and physical stress of a car accident can be significant for anybody, and the elevated stress hormones in a woman’s body can increase the risk of miscarriage.

Most commonly, the loss of an unborn child after a car accident occurs through placental abruption, which is when the placenta separates from the mother’s uterine wall. It can occur naturally but is more likely to occur due to blunt force trauma. Even partial abruption can cause the fetus to lose access to necessary nutrients and oxygen.

If you have lost a child following a car accident, it may be wisest to seek legal guidance that is specific to the circumstances of your case.

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