A new research study shows that perhaps we should keep an eye on that pesky “pregnancy brain,” and how it affects our driving.
The study suggests that women who are pregnant have more car accidents than in the years before or after pregnancy.
The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that pregnant women are more susceptible to vehicular accidents during the second trimester, a time, according to the study, that women begin to feel many of the effects of their pregnancy, and they may not drive as safely as they would with a late-term pregnancy belly.
One of the authors involved in the study attributes the increase in accidents to the cognitive impairment that many women experience during pregnancy, most commonly known as “pregnancy brain.” Donald Redelmeier, a researcher at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto says “All those changes could contribute to driver error.”
Redelmeier and his colleagues studied the records of more than 500,000 women in Ontario who were pregnant and gave birth.
These women were tracked for four years before their pregnancy and one year after their children’s birth.
Researchers looked at each car crash that occurred during that time period that was serious enough to send the woman to the emergency room.
Before their pregnancies, the amount of these serious vehicle accidents for all of the women who drove was approximately 177 per month, which works out to an annual rate of 4.5 per 1,000.
That number did not change during the first month of pregnancy. However, by month four of the pregnancy, the same women were involved in 299 serious vehicle crashes per month, working out to an annual rate of 7.6 per 1,000.
By the last month of pregnancy, that rate dropped to 2.7 per 1,000, and continued to stay low during the year following the birth of the women’s children.
Redelmeier believes that the rate stayed low because the new mothers likely drove less, or had their newborns in the car with them.