Maternal venous and umbilical venous and arterial plasma catecholamines were measured in two groups of term patients during delivery. Group I patients (N=15) received lumbar epidural anesthesia and Group II patients (N=15) did not receive epidural anesthesia. Maternal epinephrine (E) levels were significantly lower in Group I patients as compared to Group II patients (p < 0.001), whereas maternal norepinephrine (NE) as well as umbilical venous and arterial E and NE levels did not show any significant differences between the two groups of patients. Catecholamine concentrations in the umbilical vessels, especially those in the umbilical artery, were higher than the maternal vein; also, there was a clear difference between umbilical arterial and venous levels. These findings indicate that the mature fetus has the ability to release catecholamines in response to the stress of vaginal delivery whether or not there is maternal analgesia.
- Anesthetic techniques
- Sympathetic nervous system
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