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December 2, 1939


JAMA. 1939;113(23):2035-2038. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800480021006

The effect of obstetric analgesia on the newborn infant has been the subject of considerable discussion during the past few years both in medical literature and in the lay press. Analgesia has been accused of depressing the vital functions during the first few days of life, of causing permanent damage to the cerebral centers and of increasing fetal mortality.

Since obstetric analgesia is becoming so widely used, it is important to determine whether such is the case. A comparative study of large groups of newborn infants under the same environmental conditions, some of whose mothers received analgesia while those of others did not, would appear to be the logical method of approach to this problem. If obstetric analgesia is harmful to the infant, it should be reflected in the mortality rate and the records of the vital functions during the first ten days of life. We have completed such a study and herewith submit a summary of our observations.