Can epidurals be harmful for babies?

Epidurals have become a common method for managing pain during labor and delivery. Over half of all pregnant women in the United States choose to receive the injections for pain relief during childbirth. An epidural injection is a regional anesthesia administered intravenously around the lower spinal cord area. It is popular because it can help expectant mothers be more alert during labor by reducing pain, fatigue and frustration.

Although they are widely used, there are a number of risks associated with epidurals. They can result in birth injuries and long-term maternal health problems when administered incorrectly due to negligence or medical mistakes.

According to a 2012 study from Harvard University, epidural-related maternal fever during labor can pose risks for infants including seizures and difficulty breathing. Babies can also suffer from lack of oxygen which can lead to cerebral palsy, brain injuries, stroke and other serious problems. Epidurals may also affect fetal positioning.

An epidural should always be administered by a trained and experienced anesthesiologist or nurse-anesthetist. Problems can arise from giving too much medication, injecting the needle into the wrong region, failing to monitor maternal and fetal distress or administering the epidural before proper cervix dilation. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, errors in administering epidurals can also increase the risk of instrumental delivery via vacuum extraction or forceps.

Although an epidural provides significant pain relief during labor, pregnant women would benefit from understanding the risks and advantages involved. Even a minor error during the procedure can cause life-altering injuries to the mother or child.

It is important to note that determining fault can be more complicated than it might seem. If you or your child was injured and you believe someone else is fully or partially to blame, contact Chalik & Chalik to learn more about your rights.