Study says birth injury risk may be higher if mother develops fever during labor: Part 2

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As discussed in the previous post, a recent study found that babies born to mothers who had received an epidural and developed a fever had a higher risk of birth injuries. The study results were published in the February issue of Pediatrics.

The study looked at about 3,200 women who delivered a term baby. The study found that about 20 percent of the woman who had an epidural developed a fever of more than 100 degrees. In women who did not have an epidural, the incidence of fever was around 2.4 percent.

The study found that 4.4 percent of babies born to mothers who did not have a fever during labor needed resuscitation at delivery due to breathing difficulties. In mothers who had a fever of more than 101 degrees, more than 12 percent of babies needed resuscitation measures. Babies were at higher risk of seizures if their mothers had fevers of 101 degrees or more during labor.

Most fevers from epidurals come on after six or more hours of being numb, so a more difficult or prolonged pregnancy could increase the risk of a fever and further birth injuries that could already be a result of the complicated delivery. These difficult deliveries could include gestational diabetes and a large infant, shoulder dystocia and other causes.

As discussed in the previous post, the researchers didn’t know for certain whether the mothers’ fevers resulted because of the epidural or because they had an infection that may not have been treated adequately.

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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