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Study says birth injury risk may be higher if mother develops fever during labor: Part 1

A new study recently published in Pediatrics said that babies born to women who develop a fever after being administered an epidural during labor have a greater risk of suffering birth injuries. These issues with the baby's health at birth include having poor muscle tone, low Apgar scores, seizures and difficulty breathing.

It is not known whether the fevers definitely came from the epidural or an intrauterine infection, but the fevers were found to hurt many of the babies. An intrauterine infection is caused by bacteria in the vagina that inflames the fetal membranes once the cervix opens, and the infection can come on quickly. The infection can cause brain damage to a baby and cerebral palsy.

According to one doctor who reviewed the study, it is not known through the study whether the injury that came about to the infant through a mother's fever could have been lessened or avoided if the infection had been discovered and adequately treated, such as through antibiotics or acetaminophen.  

According to the study, more than half of the four million women who have a baby each year receive an epidural, and the number can be even higher in some hospitals. The study found that 20 percent of the term infants born to mothers who had an epidural experienced one or more injuries.

The next post will continue to discuss this study.

Source: U.S. News and World Report, "Epidural Plus Fever in Mom May Raise Risks for Baby," Jenifer Goodwin, Feb. 3, 2012

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