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Background: Retrospective studies have associated early epidural analgesia with cesarean delivery, but prospective studies do not demonstrate a causal relationship. This suggests that there are other variables associated with early epidural analgesia that increase the risk of cesarean delivery. This study was undertaken to determine the characteristics associated with early epidural analgesia initiation.
Methods: Information about women delivering at 37 weeks or greater gestation with epidural analgesia, who were not scheduled for cesarean delivery, was extracted from the McGill Obstetric and Neonatal Database. Patients were grouped into those who received epidural analgesia at a cervical dilation of #3 cm and .3 cm. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression was used to determine the maternal, neonatal, and labor characteristics that increased the risk of inclusion in the early epidural group.
Labor augmentation and induction, nulliparity, rupture of membranes spontaneously and before labor starts, increasing maternal weight, and decreasing neonatal weight are associated with early epidural analgesia. Many of these variables are also associated with cesarean delivery
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