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Reproductive & Child Health News

Heavier Moms Get More Cesareans

DALLAS, TX--The more obese a pregnant woman is at the time of delivery, the more likely her baby will be delivered by Cesarean section, according to a study by obstetric anesthesiologists at Duke University Medical Center. Because of this, the researchers recommend that obese women consider having an epidural analgesia line placed when they enter the hospital during labor. This would minimize potential risks of general anesthesia if a C-section becomes necessary. An epidural involves the placement of a thin catheter into the epidural space near the spinal column, which allows physicians to introduce anesthetic agents that can be used to block the pain of vaginal delivery or provide anesthesia for a C-section. In a general anesthetic, the patient is unconscious; when an epidural is used, the patient is awake but cannot feel pain in the lower half of the body. In most cases, the anesthesiologist doesn't see an expectant mother until just a few hours before delivery. The type of anesthesia used can directly affect the health of mother and baby. This is especially true of obese women, because physicians encounter more difficulty in successfully administering emergency general anesthesia to overweight patients. Dr. Elizabeth Bell, and obstetric anesthesiologist at Duke, presented the results of her study recently at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

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