Few periods of life are more exciting than the months before welcoming a new baby into the world. Of course, external dangers may put both you and your unborn child at risk. Driving and riding in a motor vehicle is such a concern. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that car accidents are the leading cause of death for pregnant women. They also top the list of reasons fetuses die due to trauma. Still, a crash does not have to lead to someone’s death to be catastrophic. You or your unborn baby may sustain serious injuries in even minor collisions. If you have a car accident while you are pregnant, here are three serious injuries that may affect your baby:

1. Maternal death

Unborn children depend on their mothers for oxygen, nutrients and other life support. Sadly, if a pregnant person dies in a car accident, the child has low odds of surviving. This is particularly true if the crash occurs in the first two trimesters or if emergency medical care is not immediately available.

2. Maternal shock

Car accidents can be tremendously stressful events. They may also contribute to serious injuries such as blood loss. Alarmingly, if you go into shock after a crash, your unborn baby may not receive enough blood. This, in turn, may cause your child to sustain brain damage or die.

3. Ruptured uterus

While a ruptured uterus is an uncommon occurrence in ordinary pregnancies, a car accident may cause tearing. If your vehicle suddenly decelerates and you collide with your seat belt or steering wheel, you may sustain a ruptured uterus. While you are likely to survive this injury, the medical condition is almost always fatal for an unborn child. 

While it is still necessary for you to drive while pregnant, it is important to understand the types of injuries that may negatively affect your child in an automobile collision. Be sure to take precautions whenever on the road, and also talk to your OB-GYN about keeping your infant safe until he or she enters the world.