Back to Journals » International Journal of Women's Health » Volume 12

Effects of Labor Epidural Analgesia on Short Term Neonatal Morbidity

Authors Salameh KM, Anvar Paraparambil V, Sarfrazul A, Lina Hussain H, Sajid Thyvilayil S, Samer Mahmoud A

Received 26 August 2019

Accepted for publication 3 January 2020

Published 4 February 2020 Volume 2020:12 Pages 59—70


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Elie Al-Chaer

Khalil Mohd Salameh, Vellamgot Anvar Paraparambil , Abedin Sarfrazul, Habboub Lina Hussain, Salim Sajid Thyvilayil , Alhoyed Samer Mahmoud

Department of Pediatrics and Neonatology, Al Wakra Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation, Al Wakra, Qatar

Correspondence: Khalil Mohd Salameh
Department of Pediatrics and Neonatology, Al Wakra Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation, Al Wakra, Qatar
Tel +974 40114258
Email [email protected]

Background: Epidural Analgesia (EA) is the most effective and most commonly used method for pain relief during labor. Some researchers have observed an association between EA and increased neonatal morbidity. But this observation was not consistent in many other studies.
Objectives: The primary objective of the study was to examine whether exposure to epidural analgesia increased the risk of NICU admission. The secondary objectives included the risks of clinical chorioamnionitis, instrumental delivery, neonatal depression, respiratory distress, birth trauma, and neonatal seizure during the first 24 hours of life.
Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study involving 2360 low-risk nulliparous women who delivered at AWH, Qatar, during the two years between January 2016 December and 2017. Short-term neonatal outcomes of the mothers who received EA in active labor were compared with a similar population who did not receive EA. As secondary objectives, labor parameters like maternal temperature elevation, duration of the second stage of labor, and instrumental delivery were compared.
Results: Significantly higher numbers of neonates were admitted to the NICU from the EA group (P< 0.001, OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.45 to 2.46). They were more likely to have respiratory distress (P=0.01, OR 1.49, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.07), birth injuries (P=0.02, OR =1.71, 95% CI 1.06 to 2.74), admission temperature> 37.5 °C (P= 0.04, OR 3.40, 95% CI 1.00 to 11.49), need for oxygen on the first day (P=0.04, OR 1.44, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.07) and receive antibiotics (P< 0.001, OR 2.06,95% CI 1.47 to 2.79). There was no difference in the Apgar score at 1 minute (P=0.12), need of resuscitation at birth (P=0.05), neonatal white cell count (P=0.34), platelet count (P=0.38) and C reactive protein (P=0.84). Mothers who received EA had a lengthier second stage (P< 0.001), temperature elevation > 37.5°C (P< 0.001, OR 7.40, 95% CI 3.93 to 13.69) and instrumental delivery (P< 0.001, OR 2.13, 95% CI 1.69 to 2.68).
Conclusion: EA increases NICU admission, antibiotic exposure, neonatal birth injuries, need for positive pressure ventilation at birth, and respiratory distress in the first 24 hours of life. Mothers on epidural analgesia have prolonged second stage of labor, a higher rate of instrumental delivery, meconium-stained amniotic fluid, fetal distress, and temperature elevation.

Keywords: epidural analgesia, neonatal morbidity, NICU admission

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]