Are there any strategies to improve neonatal outcomes associated with epidural analgesia in labor?

Main Article Content

Marta Armani
Carla Gaggiano
Sara Dallaglio
Enzo Romanini
Carmen Sospiri
Cinzia Magnani

Keywords

Epidural analgesia, labor, newborn, body temperature, breastfeeding, delivery

Abstract

Background and aim of the work: This study was aimed at evaluating the relationship between epidural analgesia and perinatal outcomes and at verifying the advisability of procedural changes in assistance to labor.
Subjects and methods: From January to December 2012, we conducted a retrospective case-control study on 1,963 laboring pregnant women admitted to the Parma University Hospital. We considered two groups: Group 1 received epidural analgesia and Group 2 received no analgesia. Women with elective cesarean sections, multiple pregnancies or deliveries at <34 weeks were excluded. We recorded maternal data (age, type of delivery, obstetric procedures, premature rupture of membranes, screenings for Group-B Streptococcus) and neonatal data (birth weight, gestational age, 1- and 5-minute Apgar scores, diagnosis at discharge).
Results: Of the 1,963 laboring women, 287 requested analgesia and 1,676 did not. We found no significant differences between the two groups in the rates of cesarean section, clavicle fracture, and 1-minute Apgar score between 4 and 7. By contrast, we observed a higher rate of instrumental deliveries (p<0.01), fetal occiput posterior position (p<0.05), neonatal cephalohematoma (p=0.01) in Group 1 than in Group 2 . In Group 1 we also found a higher number of newborns with 1-minute Apgar score of 3 or less (p=0.016). In addition, a significantly higher number of women in Group 1 had fever during labor (p=0.003, odds ratio 5.01).
Conclusions: Our results suggest that strategies should be activated to overcome or limit the side-effects of analgesia in labor through prospective and multidisciplinary studies. 

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