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Background: Trauma during pregnancy places two lives at risk. Knowledge of risk factors for trauma during pregnancy may improve outcomes.

Methods: We reviewed the charts of 188 such patients admitted to a Level I trauma center from 1996 to 2004. A comparison was made of injury severity and outcome from a cohort of nonpregnant female trauma patients selected with a similar temporal occurrence and age range.

Results: Motor vehicle collisions comprised 160 cases, 67 using a restraint device. Of 84 patients tested, 45 tested positive for intoxicants, 16 positive for 2 or more intoxicants. A significant trend toward less testing through the study period was observed (p = 0.0002). Injury severity was assessed by Revised Trauma Score (RTS). RTS <11 or admission to operating room or intensive care units (OR/ICU) classified patients as severely injured. The six maternal fatalities had an RTS <11 or OR/ICU disposition. Fetal outcomes included 155 live in utero, 18 live births, and 15 fatalities correlating with injury severity by either criteria (p < 0.0001). Of the fetal fatalities, 7 occurred with RTS = 12, but only 3 fatalities occurred in the 147 cases not admitted to OR/ICU. Gestational age correlated (p < 0.0001) with fetal outcomes. The 18 live births had mean gestational ages of 35 /- 4 weeks as compared with fetal fatalities at 20 /- 9 weeks, and fetuses alive in utero at 22 /- 9 weeks gestation. Coagulation tests prothrombin time (PT), international normalized ratio (INR) (both p < 0.008), and partial thromboplastin time (PTT) (p < 0.0001) correlated with maternal outcome. A matched cohort of nonpregnancy trauma cases during the same time frame indicated that, despite a significantly higher percentage of severely injured patients, fewer fatalities occurred. This might reflect a greater risk for the pregnant trauma patient.

Conclusions: This study of trauma in pregnancy cases revealed a high percentage with risk behaviors. There was a significant trend toward less intoxicant testing in recent years. Coagulation tests were the most predictive of outcomes. Lower gestational age correlated with fetal demise.

(C) 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.