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LIVERPOOL, England, Nov 22, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- A British study indicates women who receive epidurals during labor report less pain than those who choose opiates or natural childbirth.
At the same time, the study indicated epidurals bring an increased risk of delivery assisted by forceps or vacuum -- meaning a woman's decision about pain relief is not clear-cut, researchers said.
"Each woman will have to weigh how much it means to her to have a spontaneous vaginal delivery versus having more pain in labor," said lead author Dr. Millicent Anim-Somuah of the Liverpool Women's Hospital.
Researchers also noted women receiving the spinal injections are no more likely than others to require Caesarian sections or to suffer chronic backaches. Their infants are equally healthy soon after birth.
Epidural analgesia involves injecting a local anesthetic into the lower back to block pain impulses from the uterus and birth canal. The technique was introduced in 1946, and scientists report 58 percent of American women now choose that form of pain relief during childbirth.
The researchers analyzed 21 studies involving more than 6,000 women, mostly in the United States, England and Australia.
The research appears in the most recent issue of The Cochrane Library.
Copyright 2005 by United Press International