What To Expect When You’re Expecting Movie Gives The Same Poor Advice On Keeping Unborn Children Safe As The Book Does
-Movie uses cars IIHS says safety-conscious should avoid
-Worst example of safety misinformation since Glee crash
-Reckless driving with pregnant women played for laughs
By Lynn Marie Town
When it comes to putting an unborn child in harm’s way, says the co-author of a women’s safety guide, nothing compares to its mother getting into a small car, and the movie version of What To Expect When You’re Expecting — like the book it’s based on — fails to make that clear.
“I was hoping the movie would do a better job of clarifying the risks pregnant women create for their children when they get in a car than the book does,” says Susan Winlaw, “but, sadly, that didn’t happen. Showing pregnant women in small cars and then driving quickly as they have in this movie encourages them to put their unborn children — and themselves — at great risk.”
Alex Law, the other co-author of How To Avoid Deadly Everyday Dangers: The Women’s Safety Guide (a $3.99 e-book), points out that one couple’s BMW Mini is on the list of cars that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says should be avoided by people for whom safety is a priority, which usually includes pregnant women. (see Women’s Safety Guide to purchase through Amazon).
Law says “There are more than 50 models on the IIHS’s list of cars to avoid, including about 30 that have IIHS Top Safety Pick awards. That seems strange, but it makes perfect sense because the awards only apply to vehicles in a very specific weight class.”
Law says the IIHS and other crash-test agencies know that the heavier car in a crash always has an advantage. “It’s the same principle with boxers, MMA fighters and Olympic combat athletes, who always compete against people their own weight,” Law points out.
Cars the IIHS says safety-conscious women should avoid also includes Mercedes Smart, Chrysler Fiat 500, Toyota Yaris, Honda Civic and many others that don’t weigh 3,000 lbs or more.
Winlaw notes that real-world statistics show that “if a woman between the ages of about 14 to 40 is going to die, be disfigured or suffer a debilitating injury, it’s most likely going to happen in a car, and the smaller the car the greater the chances of those things happening.”
Winlaw says “A lot of women wish it weren’t true that small cars aren’t as safe or try to ignore it, and they’re welcome to put their own lives in danger. But they should consider the health of their baby before they get behind the wheel when they’re pregnant.”
Exact statistics are unknown, says Law, “But experts say that an unborn child is four times more likely to die in a car in the months before it’s born than it is during the first four years of its life.”
Studies have also shown that an unborn child is more likely to suffer congenital health problems if its mother was in some kind of auto incident, Winlaw says, which happen millions of times a year in North America.
“What to Expect When You’re Expecting does wisely advise women to wear seatbelts correctly at all times,” says Winlaw, “but it ignores what regularly happens on the road when it says the mother is ideally designed to protect her unborn child, even in a hard-braking incident.”
Winlaw says that “No pregnant woman in her right mind would get on a carnival thrill ride, but millions of women get into a car every day and that can turn into something worse than a thrill ride in a moment’s notice. Thrill rides never crash into walls or roll over six times and leave their occupants dangling, but cars do that and worse all the time.”
Winlaw points out that there are over a million crashes a year in North America that send women to hospital for treatment, and there are plenty of incidents that don’t injure the mother but could harm the unborn child and aren’t treated.
“It would have been easy for the film-makers to show women how to better protect their unborn children,” says Law. “If a woman has to get in a car, she needs to make sure it’s the biggest car she can find with someone else at the wheel, and that the car never exceeds about 30-35 miles per hour.”
Law says the best way for a pregnant women to protect her unborn child from the risks associated with being in a car is for her to stay out of cars, but for various reasons women aren’t willing to consider that.
“People always say they’d do anything to protect their children,” Law says, “and staying out of cars is a perfect way to prove it.”
“Hollywood is probably afraid the characters in its films wouldn’t look cool if they did this,” says Winlaw, “but is that as important as showing pregnant women how to keep their unborn children safe?”
Law and Winlaw say they wrote How To Avoid Deadly Everyday Dangers so women would be made aware of where harm lies in their cars, homes and everywhere else.
They also say that What to Expect When You’re Expecting is the latest Hollywood effort to misrepresent the realities of road safety. “The worst example in recent memory was the recent car crash in Glee,” says Winlaw. “In the real world that young woman whose car was t-boned by a pickup would have sustained substantial injuries that almost certainly would have resulted in her death, but she shows up unscarred with a condition that clears up a few weeks later. It was completely unbelievable, but a lot of young women don’t know that.”