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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Washington Study Finds Trauma Centers Improve Outcomes for Injured Pregnant Women

Pregnant women suffering traumatic injuries experience better maternal and neonatal outcomes if they are treated at a designated trauma center, according to new research from the University of Washington School of Public Health.

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, identified more than 3,400 pregnant women who had been hospitalized for injuries in Washington state between 1995 and 2012; about 73 percent of the women were treated at a trauma-designated hospital. Most of the injuries were caused by motor vehicle collisions and falls.

Researchers found that women treated at a trauma hospital were 40 percent less likely to experience preterm labor. Treatment at a trauma center also lowered the odds of a premature birth by 26 percent, while the odds of low birth weight were lowered by 28 percent.

“This study shows beneficial effects that trauma hospitals can have on injured pregnant women and their neonates,” said co-author Major John T. Distelhorst, DO, who conducted the research for his MPH at the University of Washington. “We hope that state trauma systems will look at this information to optimize their resources and triage protocols.”

Dr. Distelhorst is now a U.S. Army Preventive Medicine physician at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Senior author Dr. Melissa Schiff, professor of epidemiology and of obstetrics and gynecology, said, “This study is important because it is one of the first to show that a regionalized, inclusive trauma system is beneficial for injured pregnant women. Prior studies of trauma systems have only evaluated non-pregnant patients.”