The Daily Telegraph

No laughing matter as eco gadget used to ease birth pain

- By Joe Pinkstone science correspond­ent

A BRITISH mother has become the first person in the UK to use climate-friendly pain relief when giving birth.

Entonox, better known as gas and air, a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen, has been used to provide pain relief during labour for more than a century.

But nitrous oxide is the third most troublesom­e greenhouse gas, behind carbon dioxide and methane.

Although produced at low levels, it is almost 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide and, therefore, has a significan­t impact on climate change.

Also known as laughing gas, it is used as an anaestheti­c but is also inhaled for recreation­al purposes so has earned the nickname “hippy crack”.

After exhalation, the gas remains intact and seeps into the atmosphere, contributi­ng to global warming.

The company Medclair built its Mobile Destructio­n Unit (MDU) to address the problem. It administer­s the gas and then uses a catalyst and high temperatur­es to break down the residue into oxygen and nitrogen, which are not greenhouse gases and in their solitary forms constitute 21 and 78 per cent, respective­ly, of the atmosphere.

Kaja Gersinka became the first to use an MDU when she gave birth to a daughter weighing 6lb 6oz on September 9 at Newcastle Birthing Centre.

Afterwards, she said: “I started on the traditiona­l machine and then swapped. It’s nice to make a little bit of history.”

The MDU also reduces hospital staff ’s exposure to nitrous oxide.

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