Pregnant ladies, while you're avoiding alcohol, sushi, and hot tubs, you may also want to be a little more careful while driving. A new study finds that expectant mothers are at a higher risk for car accidents, NPR reports. Researchers looked at medical records of more than 500,000 Canadian mothers for the four years before their baby was born, and the year after. The car crash rate among the women was about the same during the first trimester as it had been before pregnancy, but it rose about 42% during the second trimester—putting the women at about the same risk of an accident as a person with sleep apnea. The researchers only looked at accidents serious enough to merit an ER visit, USA Today reports.
The risk then dropped off during the third trimester, and after birth, it dropped even lower than it had been pre-pregnancy. The study didn't look at causes, but the lead researcher thinks hormonal changes could be to blame. "We've known for a long time that pregnancy causes fatigue, insomnia, nausea and stress," he says. "What we wondered was how all those factors might contribute to driver error and the possibility of a life-threatening motor vehicles crash." An OB-GYN chief who was not involved in the study says sleep disorders during pregnancy could also play a role. But the lead researcher says rather than give up driving, expectant moms should simply make sure to obey all traffic laws and minimize distractions while driving. (Read more pregnancy stories.)