The aim of this study is to investigate the possible role of placental location on the risk of placental abruption in road traffic accidents involving a pregnant driver. Placental abruption accounts for around 50–70% of fetal deaths in motor vehicle accidents. The computational pregnant occupant model, ‘Expecting’, which has a multi-body fetus and a finite element uterus model was developed at Loughborough University and is used in this investigation.

The placenta is located in the upper region of the uterus near the fundus in ‘Expecting’. Four locations for the placenta; anterior, posterior, lateral left, lateral right cases are modelled and used in simulations in this study. These models are used to simulate a range of frontal impacts of severity 15 kph and 30 kph. Three cases of occupant restraint: three-point seatbelt with an airbag, three-point seatbelt only and airbag only conditions are investigated. The maximum strains developed in the uterus and utero-placental interface (UPI) have been estimated and compared for these scenarios in order to investigate placental abruption that leads to fetal loss. Placenta located at anterior position is found to be at higher risk than other positions considered.

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