LOS ANGELES: Airbags appear safe for pregnant women and the babies they're carrying, a new study shows.
Although it has been established that air bags save lives in car crashes, there has been a lingering question whether the devices might also protect pregnant women and unborn children.
In the new study, reported in China's Xinhua news agency, researchers at the University of Washington found that "pregnant occupants of motor vehicles with air bags were not at increased risk for pregnancy complications" such as Ceasarean delivery, foetal distress and low birth weight.
The researchers collected data on 2,207 pregnant women involved in car accidents, comparing the outcome of accidents in cars with and without air bags.
They found no increased risk for injury to the mother or foetus related to whether the car had air bags or didn't, Xinhua said, citing the study.
They did find a 70% increase in pre-term labour and a threefold increase in foetal death among those in accidents in which air bags were deployed, compared with cars without air bags.
However, the lead researcher Dr. Melissa A. Schiff, a professor of epidemiology, said the findings were not statistically significant.
"These findings were inconclusive because we really had too small a sample size," she said.
More study will be needed to see if there really is a connection between air bag deployment and pre-term labor or foetal death, she added.
"Air bags are safe for most outcomes, but the best protection for pregnant women comes from wearing a seat belt," Schiff said.
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