Could My Car Accident Have Caused Preterm Labor?

I am 28 weeks pregnant. Last week, I was involved in a car accident. My baby was monitored and an ultrasound was done. Less than 48 hours later I was in labor. Fortunately, they stopped it with a medication called Terbutaline. Was it the trauma of the accident that initiated the preterm labor?


Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Preterm labor has been associated with trauma, including domestic abuse situations, falls and automobile accidents.

In a 1998 article in the European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, five pregnant mothers were admitted for repeated direct blunt abdominal trauma due to "falls" during pregnancy. Preterm contractions were noted in three patients -- one of which actually delivered preterm.

There did not seem to be an association with placental separation, intrauterine growth restriction or fetal death. All patients delivered normally. The authors concluded that routine hospitalized surveillance in the absence of vaginal bleeding or uterine contractions may not be warranted.

Seat belt syndrome and its possible effects for pregnancy has also been considered. The term "seat belt" syndrome is used for the injuries caused by contact forces between the human body and the seat belt which result from the acceleration force. Injuries such as ruptured uterus are rare, but do occur. It is still recommended that pregnant women wear the lap belt and shoulder harness during pregnancy. The lap belt should be worn close to the pubic bone.

Trauma during pregnancy is remarkably common, and is greatly underestimated in terms of its contribution to both maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. From your description, you were managed appropriately by being monitored for several hours and given a list of warning signs to be alert for such as contractions, pressure, bleeding, fever, change in fetal movement pattern and pain. When preterm contractions were identified, Terbutaline was administered. My best wishes that you will be able to carry this baby to term.

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