Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Wayne Higgins, Robert Baum, David Dunn

Degree Program

Department of Public Health

Degree Type

Master of Science


Obstetric analgesia and anesthesia is an important concern today. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of analgesia used in labor and delivery on the mother and newborn. The information obtained in this study evaluated the amount, time and types of analgesia and the effects on the mother and the newborn.

Previous research has indicated adverse effects of analgesia and anesthesia on both mother and newborn, but conclusive results have not been obtained. Depressed respiratory function, increased use of oxygen, and low Apgar scores are among the effects reported for the newborn. Decreased uterine function, decreased satisfaction of the birth process, and risks attendant upon analgesia and anesthesia have been reported regarding the mother.

Apgar scores, oxygen administered, and length of hospitilization for mother and newborn were the dependent variables measured by this study. The independent variables were amount, time, and administration of medication during labor and delivery. The control variables were the number of prenatal visits, number of previous pregnancies, and the stage of pregnancy at first visit to the physician.

The subjects were grouped according to the amount of Demerol (the most commonly prescribed analgesia) administered, and comparisons were made between the highest and lowest groups. No significant differences were observed between the high and low Demerol groups in any of these variables.

Significant differences were found in the area of Apgar scores and oxygen administration. These findings support the conclusion that analgesia and anesthesia administered during labor and delivery can have adverse effects in the newborn.

Thus, the null hypothesis of no significant differences of effects of analgesia or anesthesia on mother and newborn was partially rejected.

This research lends support to findings which suggest adverse effects of medication during labor. These supportive results could serve as a basis for future research investigating the amount of medication given in labor and delivery.


Medical Specialties | Medicine and Health Sciences | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Public Health | Women's Health