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Baby on board? Here’s why researchers say to drive “extra carefully”

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Pregnant women may be at a much higher risk of car crashes than those without babies on board, especially during the second trimester, according to a surprising new study that urges moms-to-be to drive extra carefully.

Women run a 42 percent increased relative risk of being in a motor vehicle accident when they’re pregnant than when they’re not — and the risk is especially acute during the first month of the second third of pregnancy.

That’s according to Canadian researchers who studied records of more than 500,000 women for six years from 2006 to 2011, comparing their risk of accidents before and after pregnancy. In the three years before they were pregnant, the women were involved in 177 car crashes a month. During pregnancy, the number jumped to 252 per month — a significant increase.

The study doesn’t mean women should stop driving during pregnancy. Even at their worst, they’re still better drivers than men of the same age, he noted.

“On the contrary, we’re saying that individuals need to start driving more carefully,” Redelmeier said.