Epidural-Related Deaths Are on the Rise -- Should You Worry?

When I had to have an emergency C-section, I was asked if I wanted general or local anesthesia. “Definitely the epidural,” I said, assuming that being put to sleep completely would be way riskier.

Turns out, epidurals -- and other regional anesthesia, such as spinal blocks -- can be fatal, too. A new study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that regional anesthesia-related deaths have risen a bit, from 2.5 deaths for every million C-sections between 1991 and 1996, to 3.8 per million between 1997 and 2002. General anesthesia deaths, on the other hand, are declining.
 
"It is concerning," lead researcher Dr. Joy L. Hawkins, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, told Reuters.  But if you’re pregnant and considering an epidural or spinal block, don’t worry. Those statistics confirm that death due to anesthesia is still very rare. Almost all the deaths were in C-section patients, and the few who died either had allergic reactions to the drug or the anesthesia caused heart problems. Dr. Hawkins stresses seeking quality medical throughout your pregnancy and disclosing your complete medical history to your medical provider.

Would you rather have an epidural or do a drug-free childbirth -- or something else? Chime in below!

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