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Article
August 19, 1916

THE USE OF CHLOROFORM IN THE FIRST STAGES OF LABOR

JAMA. 1916;LXVII(8):559-564. doi:10.1001/jama.1916.02590080009005
Abstract

In the world at large, in hospitals and private practice, both in town and in the country, chloroform is still the anesthetic most largely used in obstetrics. It has survived many eras of criticism. In Simpson's1 early exploitation of it some of the objections encountered were the alleged production of epilepsy, insanity and septicemia and the pious belief that it was sacrilegious to remove the sorrows of childbirth.

Later, when deaths were found to be more frequent from chloroform than from ether in surgical anesthesia, its use in obstetrics was criticized. But chloroform accidents in midwifery were almost unknown. On its own merits it prevailed again on the evidence of experience, and theories were advanced to explain an apparent special immunity in labor.

At present we are in a period of active criticism of its use because of late chloroform poisoning with degeneration of the liver and other organs.

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