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Maternal Ethnicity and Weight Can Affect Pain and Labor

But effects are modest compared with the substantial differences observed between women

FRIDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Asian women and heavier women have slower labor and report less pain, but ethnicity and weight do not explain the substantial differences observed between women, according to a study in the November issue of Anesthesiology.

Jozef Debiec, M.D., and colleagues from Columbia University in New York City developed a mathematical model for pain and labor progress using retrospective data from 500 consecutive deliveries evenly divided among five self-reported ethnic groups (Asian, African-American, Hispanic, Other, and Caucasian). Pain was modeled as a sigmoidal function of cervical dilation, and labor progress was modeled as a biexponential function describing the latent and active phases of labor and showed substantial intersubject variability.

The researchers found that Asian women had significantly slower active labor and reported significantly less pain during their labor compared with other ethnic groups. Neuraxial analgesia was significantly associated with slower labor while greater maternal weight was significantly associated with slower active labor.

"Asian women and heavier women had slower labor and slower onset of labor pain than others," Debiec and colleagues conclude. "These effects were modest compared with the substantial remaining unexplained subject-to-subject variability in labor progress and labor pain."

One of the authors is a co-developer of PLT Tools and has a financial interest in the software.

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