One of the questions that may come up for women about to give birth is whether or not they should have an epidural. When done correctly, they do make labor much less painful but there can be worries about how it affects the baby.
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A new study published in the International Journal of Women’s Health shows that epidurals may not be as safe for babies as once thought. The study wanted to see if an epidural increased the risk of admitting a baby to an NICU, along with several other risks in the first 24 hours of life.
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The study looked at 2360 low-risk babies from mothers who had never given birth before. It found that admission rates were significantly higher in women who had an epidural. Babies were more likely to have respiratory distress, birth injuries, higher temperatures, a higher need for oxygen, and need antibiotics.
Mothers who had epidurals also had lengthier labor, higher temperatures, and an increased need for instruments to deliver the baby, which carries risks all of its own.
As we are not doctors, we can’t go so far as to say that an epidural is dangerous. But this new study should give doctors and mothers pause. More research needs to be done to see if an epidural causes more harm than good.