Background: The fetal head malposition in labor leads to prolonged labor, cesarean delivery and increased perinatal morbidity. Epidural analgesia has been associated with fetal head malposition, but it remains unknown if this relation is causal. Objective: To compare the incidence of fetal malposition during labor and maternal/fetal outcomes, between women who received epidural analgesia with those who did not use the analgesic method. Study design: Case control study including 500 women with a single fetus in vertex position who gave birth at term at the Policlinic Hospital of Modena between May 2019 and July 2019. Two-hundred and fifty women belonged to the epidural analgesia (EA) group and 250 to the control group. Results: The rate of posterior occiput positions occurred 4 times more frequently in the EA group than in the control group (8.8% vs 2.2%, p =.004). Cesarean sections were significantly higher in the EA group (11.6% vs 1.6%, p <.0000) as well as the need for augmentation with oxytocin (20% vs 8%, p =.0001) compared to the control group, in which spontaneous delivery prevailed instead. Women with epidural had labors that lasted on average 7.0 h against the 3.30 h of controls (p <.0000). The length of 2nd stage of labor was 55 vs 30 min (p =.009), respectively. No differences in blood loss and Apgar score between groups. Early breastfeeding was significantly higher among controls (82% vs 92.8%, p =.0004). Conclusions: Women receiving epidural analgesia in labor have higher rate of fetal malposition, prolonged labors, and more cesarean sections than controls. However, further studies are required to confirm a causal association between EA and fetal head malposition.
Fetal head malposition and epidural analgesia in labor: a case-control study / Menichini, D.; Mazzaro, N.; Minniti, S.; Ricchi, A.; Molinazzi, M. T.; Facchinetti, F.; Neri, I.. - In: THE JOURNAL OF MATERNAL-FETAL & NEONATAL MEDICINE. - ISSN 1476-7058. - 35:25(2022), pp. 5691-5696. [10.1080/14767058.2021.1890018]