Vehicle crashes account for more than half of all New
Zealand foetal deaths caused by maternal injury, new University
of Otago research shows.
Of the 41 foetal and newborn deaths because of maternal
injury between 1997 and 2008, 21 involved motor vehicle
collisions, the research found.
Maori were at greater risk, accounting for 27% of foetal
deaths because of maternal crash injury, despite making up
15% of the population.
Injury prevention research unit director Prof Hank Weiss said
Maori women had higher birth rates at younger ages, when they
were at greater risk of being in a crash, which might account
for the higher rate.
Foetal deaths because of vehicle accidents were largely
invisible, he said.
''The problem remains hidden, and under-reported, because of
the way foetal trauma is coded in vital statistics and the
lack of pregnancy status recorded in crash and injury
surveillance systems,'' he said.
The research is published in the journal Australian
New Zealand needs to pay more attention to reporting and
preventing such deaths, Prof Weiss' article concludes.
He recommends increased protection for vehicle occupants,
less driving and safer driving.
Ministry of Transport information shows from the early 1990s
to the mid-2000s the average annual distance driven per woman
for ages 15 to 39 increased about 40% to 7000km.