RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Epidural analgesia during labor and maternal fever.

BACKGROUND: In recent observational studies, epidural analgesia during labor at patient request has been associated with maternal fever. The authors report a secondary analysis of fever in women who were randomized to receive either epidural or patient-controlled intravenous analgesia during labor.

METHODS: Maternal tympanic temperature was measured during spontaneous labor in 715 women at term who were randomized to either epidural analgesia with bupivacaine and fentanyl or to patient-controlled intravenous analgesia with meperidine. Intent-to-treat analysis of women with fever (temperature > or = 38.0 degrees C) versus those without was performed using Student t test and Fisher exact test to determine statistical significance (P < 0.05).

RESULTS: Epidural analgesia was associated with maternal fever (odds ratio = 4.0; 95% confidence interval = 2.0-7.7), as was nulliparity (odds ratio = 4.1; 95% confidence interval = 1.8-9.1) and labor longer than 12 h (odds ratio = 5.4; 95% confidence interval = 2.9-9.9). These factors were all independent variables for maternal fever when analyzed using logistic regression.

CONCLUSIONS: Epidural analgesia is associated with maternal fever. However, nulliparity and dysfunctional labor are also significant cofactors in the fever attributed to epidural analgesia.

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