Pain-relieving drug could reduce need for epidurals in labour
A RECENT study has found that an alternative patient-controlled drug could significantly reduce the number of women requiring an epidural for childbirth.
In the RESPITE trial, researchers at the
Universities of Birmingham, Sheffield and Nottingham, compared two drugs given for pain control in labour — pethidine and remifentanil PCA. Women in established labour were randomly assigned one of the two pain killers and the researchers then assessed how many of these women later required an epidural.
Pethidine is a drug for pain relief routinely given to thousands of women in Ireland who give birth.
The results of the trial in the The Lancet show that half the number of women in the remifentanil PCA group needed an epidural, compared to the pethidine group. Of the 199 women who were given pethidine, 41pc had an epidural, compared to just 19pc of the 201 women who were given remifentanil PCA.