Largest study of its kind of women in labor finds nitrous oxide safe, side effects rare

May 29, 2020

AURORA, Colo. (May 29, 2020) - Researchers at the University of Colorado College of Nursing and the School of Medicine Department of Anesthesiology at the Anschutz Medical Campus found that the use of nitrous oxide (N2O) as a pain relief option for individuals in labor is safe for newborn children and laboring individual, and converting to a different form of pain relief such as an epidural or opioid is influenced by a woman's prior birth history and other factors.

The study, out today in Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health, surveyed 463 women who used nitrous oxide during labor. The study is the largest and first of its kind in the United States to report rates of side effects from N2O use during labor, as well as reasons for women in labor after cesarean to convert to other forms of pain relief. Of the women who began using N2O as an initial pain relief technique, 31% used only N2O throughout labor and 69% transitioned to another pain relief method such as epidural and/or opioids. "Nitrous oxide is a useful, safe option for labor analgesia in the United States. And for some laboring mothers, that's all the pain relief they need. Understanding predictors of conversion from inhaled nitrous oxide to other forms of analgesia may assist providers in their discussions with women about pain relief options during labor," said lead author and Associate Professor with the University of Colorado College of Nursing Priscilla M. Nodine, PhD, CNM.

The reason most often cited (96%) for converting from N2O to an alternative therapy was inadequate pain relief. The odds of conversion from N2O increased approximately 3-fold when labor was augmented with oxytocin and when labor was induced. Also, those who had a history ofcesarean section and experienced labor post-cesarean had more than a 6-fold increased odds of conversion to neuraxial analgesia or epidural. The odds of conversion to neuraxial analgesia decreased by 63% for individuals who had given birth previously relative to those who were giving birth for the first time.

Approximately 4 million women in the United States give birth each year, and for many, coping with laborp is a significant concern. Epidurals and spinal blocks, also known as neuraxial analgesia, are the most frequently used pain management tools in the United States, with the main alternative being systemic opioids, which can be associated with both maternal and fetal adverse effects. Recently reintroduced as a pain relief option during labor in the United States, N2O has a long history of use in many developed nations and is increasingly available in the US. "While there is a fair body of anecdotal evidence of safety and effectiveness for how nitrous oxide affects pain during labor, few systematic analyses of outcomes are available from US-based cohorts," said Nodine.
-end-
About the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is a world-class medical destination at the forefront of transformative science, medicine, education, and patient care. The campus encompasses the University of Colorado health professional schools, more than 60 centers and institutes, and two nationally ranked hospitals that treat more than 2 million adult and pediatric patients each year. Innovative, interconnected and highly collaborative, together we deliver life-changing treatments, patient care, professional training, and conduct world-renowned research powered by more than $550 million in research awards. For more information, visit http://www.cuanschutz.edu.

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Related Opioids Articles from Brightsurf:

One in 10 older dental patients inappropriately prescribed opioids
A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh suggests that a significant proportion of older patients receiving opioids at dental visits also use psychotropic medications -- a potentially harmful combination.

Look beyond opioids to solve national substance use epidemic, study suggests
A new study published reveals that three-quarters of participants in an inpatient addiction intervention program at Oregon Health & Science University came into the hospital using more than one substance.

Placenta can indicate how body responds to opioids during pregnancy
Scientists at the University of Missouri have discovered possible biological markers that they hope could one day help identify the presence of an opioid use disorder during human pregnancy.

Research Finds Women Often Overprescribed Opioids After Childbirth
Excessive opioid prescriptions following childbirth may lead to higher rates of addiction within communities, according to a new report in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Women significantly more likely to be prescribed opioids, study shows
Women are significantly more likely to receive prescriptions of opioid analgesics.

Opioids for chronic non-cancer pain doubled in quarter century
A review of 24 years of global research has shown opioid prescribing doubled between 1991-2015, with demand most common for chronic conditions such as chronic lower back pain, finds University of Sydney-led research.

Cancer screening among women prescribed opioids
US women who take prescription opioids are no less likely to receive key cancer screenings when compared to women who are not prescribed opioids.

Parents: Turkey makes great leftovers -- opioids do not
Leftover prescription opioids pose big risks to kids, yet most parents keep their own and their child's unused painkillers even after they're no longer medically necessary for pain.

Co-addiction of meth and opioids hinders treatment
A study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that methamphetamine use was associated with more than twice the risk for dropping out of treatment for opioid-use disorder.

Computer game may help to predict reuse of opioids
A computer betting game can help predict the likelihood that someone recovering from opioid addiction will reuse the pain-relieving drugs, a new study shows.

Read More: Opioids News and Opioids Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.