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Asians Seem to Suffer Less During Childbirth

Length of labor and intensity vary among ethnic groups, study finds

FRIDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Asian women experience less labor pain than other women, say U.S. researchers.

"Labor progress and pain are influenced by many different factors but are difficult to study because conditions during labor are continually changing," Dr. Pamela Flood, of the anesthesia department at Columbia University, said in a news release from the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

"We created mathematical models to assess labor progression and pain in 500 women having their first babies," Flood explained. "This technique has the benefit of allowing researchers to assess the labor experience for individual women, in addition to the responses of a group as is seen in this study. Ideally, in the future we can use this model to predict when and if a woman will be able to deliver vaginally."

The researchers studied 100 sequential deliveries from each of five ethnic groups -- Asian, Hispanic, black, white and other -- and found significant associations between ethnicity, labor progress and labor pain.

Asian women had slower active labor and reported less pain than women of other ethnicities. The researchers also found that women who weighed more generally had slower active labor.

The study is in the November issue of Anesthesiology.

"The ability to predict labor pain would be helpful to assist in the development of specific coping mechanisms during labor, helping each woman better know what to expect," Flood said. "More accurate expectations about labor pain and progress will help new mothers and their doctors to plan their treatment."

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about labor pain.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Society of Anesthesiologists, news release, Oct. 26, 2009

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