Giving birth to a child is certainly one of the most joyous and memorable experiences a mother can have. However, many women will also attest that it can be one of the most painful experiences. For this reason, many women in Chicago and throughout the entire U.S. may elect to have an epidural during labor in order to manage their pain during the labor and birth of their child.
Although this practice is very common in the U.S., it can also be very dangerous for patients if doctors fail to administer epidurals properly or if hospital staff fails to properly monitor a mother who has received an epidural. According to the results of a new study, epidurals could also cause children to suffer birth injuries if a mother develops a fever before or after an epidural has been administered.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 3,200 births of full-term babies at a hospital in Boston. They discovered that if a mother developed a fever after she had been administered an epidural her baby was more at risk of suffering injuries.
According to the study, 12 percent of babies born by mothers with fevers exceeding 101 degrees needed resuscitation. Only 4.4 percent of babies born by mothers who experienced no fever needed to be resuscitated. Additionally, babies whose mothers received epidurals and later developed fevers were more likely to experience low muscle tone for about 15 minutes after birth. The study, which was published in this month’s issue of Pediatrics, also concluded that women who were older, had larger babies and longer labors were more likely to develop a fever after receiving an epidural.
The study does point out some interesting trends, but one doctor pointed out that researchers failed to take into account other factors that could have contributed to a woman developing a fever such as an intrauterine infection. These infections can cause women to develop a fever and can be dangerous if passed on to a baby during delivery.
Any number of things can go wrong if a mother and her baby are not properly monitored during labor and birth. Although doctors may not be able to prevent a mother from developing a fever after she is given an epidural, they certainly can make sure that they continue to monitor a woman’s temperature in order to take certain measures to prevent a fever that has developed from worsening, potentially causing harm to the mother and her baby.
Source: HealthDay, “Epidural Plus Fever in Mom May Raise Risks for Baby,” Jenifer Goodwin, Feb. 3, 2012