By Rebecca Blatt
Researchers in Virginia are working with automobile designers to find ways to reduce fetal deaths by making travel safer for expectant mothers.
There aren't any official statistics on the number of fetal deaths due to vehicle accidents. States aren't required to report those incidents. But estimates range from 300 to several thousand per year.
Researchers at the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences are trying to figure out how to develop safer restraint systems for pregnant women. They're working on computer models of pregnant drivers and passengers that will allow them to test how crash forces affect the human body. Basically, a virtual crash-test dummy.
The research is being funded, in part, by Ford, which plans to include owner's guide information specifically designed for pregnant women with Lincoln and Mercury models in 2010.