‘Drive very slowly’: UBCO research looks at speed bumps and pregnancy

Pregnant women or anyone driving with an expectant mother in the car should be slowing way down when they hit speed bumps. That’s one conclusion from new research coming out of UBC Okanagan and the Sharif University of Technology.

Drivers are all too familiar with the jostle you get from going over a speed bump too fast.

UBC Okanagan researcher Hadi Mohammadi and his colleges at the Sharif University of Technology wanted to see how those bumps were impacting pregnant women and their babies.

The researchers used computer and mathematical modeling to look at the injury risk, in the third trimester of pregnancy, of hitting speed bumps in different conditions and at different speeds.

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“We computationally realized that a pregnant woman, specifically in the last months of pregnancy, driving a car, passing over a bump, depending on the conditions, depending on the speed of the car, might actually put the fetus [in] serious danger,” said Mohammadi, an associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering.

The type of issues the researchers are concerned about include minor fetal brain injuries, abnormal fetal heart rate, and uterine contractions.

Mohammadi said one way to prevent potential issues is by driving very slowly over the bumps.

The research paper says that for a “typical” speed bump drivers should slow down to less than 25 km/hr when a pregnant woman is in the car, as that would keep the bump low-risk.

Mohammadi said the other possible way to mitigate any risk would be to change the way cars are constructed.

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“We can actually work on the suspension system of the car and make it softer,” Mohammadi said.

“This is not available today but we are hoping that as technology develops and emerges this kind of feature [can] actually be added to the construction of normal vehicles just for the use of pregnant women.”

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It’s a developing field and Mohammadi said there is lots more research to be done on how daily life impacts fetuses.

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