In order to learn more about what happens to mothers and their unborn children during auto accidents, Volvo has introduced a crash dummy meant to represent a woman in a late stage of pregnancy. The presence of a fetus in a crash (or crash test) complicates matters greatly, as the safety devices that protect a non-pregnant person could be harmful or even fatal to a fetus. Airbags and seatbelts can cause direct trauma to an unborn baby, but device-child contact is not the only danger. A restrained person is subject to various pushing and pulling forces during an accident, which in a pregnant woman can cause the free-floating placenta to become detached, thereby depriving the child of oxygen. The dummy shown in cross-section is meant to be the size of average American or European.
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