Epidural Analgesia during Labor and Maternal Fever

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In recent observational studies, epidural analgesia during labor at patient request has been associated with maternal fever. The authors report a secondary analysis of fever in women who were randomized to receive either epidural or patient-controlled intravenous analgesia during labor.


Maternal tympanic temperature was measured during spontaneous labor in 715 women at term who were randomized to either epidural analgesia with bupivacaine and fentanyl or to patient-controlled intravenous analgesia with meperidine. Intent-to-treat analysis of women with fever (temperature >or= to 38.0 [degree sign]C) versus those without was performed using Student t test and Fisher exact to determine statistical significance (P < 0.05).


Epidural analgesia was associated with maternal fever (odds ratio = 4.0; 95% confidence interval = 2.0–7.7), as was nulliparity (odds ratio = 4.1; 95% confidence interval = 1.8–9.1) and labor longer than 12 h (odds ratio = 5.4; 95% confidence interval = 2.9–9.9). These factors were all independent variables for maternal fever when analyzed using logistic regression.


Epidural analgesia is associated with maternal fever. However, nulliparity and dysfunctional labor are also significant cofactors in the fever attributed to epidural analgesia.

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