Study Finds Epidural Analgesia Not to Blame for Fever in Laboring Women

Article ID: 591617

Released: 25-Jul-2012 8:00 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA)

Newswise — CHICAGO – July 25, 2012 – A study from the August issue of Anesthesiology provides evidence contrary to prior reports that fever in laboring women is associated with epidural analgesia.

In recent years, maternal temperature elevations during labor have been observed in the absence of an infection. Many have speculated about an association between maternal intrapartum fever (MIF) and several other non-infectious factors, including epidural analgesia, medications that affect body temperature, and internal and external heat production.

“Our primary research focused on studying maternal temperature individually and as a group,” said lead study author Michael Frölich, M.D., M.S. “We wanted to determine whether MIF during labor is a real phenomenon and whether it is caused by non-infectious causes.”

Methodology and FindingsResearchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham investigated the potential causes of non-infectious MIF changes in 81 laboring women. All but three participants received epidural analgesia. The temperatures in the women prior to receiving epidural analgesia were compared with their temperatures after it was administered.

More than half of participants showed a small positive temperature increase. Findings showed a significant number of women with maternal temperature elevations either had a considerably longer delivery or a higher body mass index. Epidural analgesia showed no effect on MIF.

“Long labor sustains an inflammatory process that may result in a temperature elevation. Also, the same mechanism may be responsible for patients who are overweight, since the link between obesity and inflammation is well established,” said Dr. Frölich.

The study authors believe future research to better identify the exact causes of non-infectious MIF will help identify and treat women who are more prone to fever during labor, including those who experience a longer delivery or have a greater body mass index.

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The American Society of AnesthesiologistsAnesthesiologists: Physicians providing the lifeline of modern medicine. Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists is an educational, research and scientific association with 48,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology and improve the care of the patient.

For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists website at For patient information, visit

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