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Effect of Pain Relief During Labor.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas studied 199 women with normal, first-time pregnancies. Upon admittance into the hospital, the women were offered their choice of intravenous Demerol or an epidural injection. Additionally, those women who chose the Demerol were given the option of switching to an epidural if the Demerol was inadequate.

Women in both groups were similar. They all entered labor spontaneously, had similar degrees of dilatation when receiving the pain medication, and all received equal doses of oxytocin.

The first stage of labor, the second stage of labor, and the time from admission to delivery were all significantly longer among the women who received the epidurals. Of the 126 women who had an epidural, the length of labor averaged almost eight hours. Of the 73 women who received Demerol, the average labor was 6.5 hours. More significantly, the rate of fetal descent was much greater in the women from the Demerol group. The women who received Demerol averaged 7.9 centimeters per hour, while the women with the epidurals averaged 4.6 centimeters per hour.

This study supports previous research that implies that epidurals are associated with higher cesarean rates. Researchers suggest that all women should be educated about possible effects of epidurals. Moreover, physicians need to modify their expectations of labor. Knowing that an epidural can prolong labor, physicians can reevaluate their stance on when to intervene, and, perhaps, help to lower the cesarean rate.

--InterMountain Planned Parenthood, http://www/ headlines21.html
COPYRIGHT 1999 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
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Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Special Delivery
Date:Mar 22, 1999
Previous Article:FDA Public Health Advisory: Need for Caution when Using Vacuum Assisted Delivery Devices.
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