A new campaign in County Mayo in Ireland provides advice to pregnant women on the correct and safe use of seatbelts when travelling by car.
The campaign material says that the “lives of thousands of unborn babies may be at risk each year because shocking numbers of pregnant women are misinformed about the importance of belting up in vehicles”.
Mayo Council points to figures quoted in the Journal of the American Medical Association which suggest that car crashes are the number one cause of injury or death among unborn children, with one in 25 babies predicted to be in an accident while in the womb.
It also quotes a recent study in the UK which found that of the pregnant women who don’t belt up, one in five (21%) do so because they are worried the seatbelt might harm their baby, while half of those who didn’t belt up did so because it was uncomfortable.
Noel Gibbons, Mayo’s road safety officer, said: "I hope this campaign will dispel once and for all the myth that wearing a seat belt is harmful for the foetus.
“Women radically overhaul their lifestyles to ensure they have a healthy pregnancy, yet by failing to belt up many are putting their own lives and those of their unborn babies, in jeopardy.
“All mothers would be horrified at the thought of their unborn or newly-born child being harmed or even crushed to death in a crash, yet many are risking just this because of a lack of understanding about the life-saving importance of properly restraining themselves and their children."
Frances Burke, childbirth educator at Mayo General Hospital, said: "The message for all mums-to-be is with a few simple steps you are much safer when travelling by car.
“Wear your belt, follow the correct position to protect you and baby, and that is for all journeys. Even for the shortest trips belt up and get in good habits.”