According to a report from New Scientist, epidurals are safer than once thought. Previously. it was thought that the risk of lasting harm from an epidural during birth was 1 in 25,000. New research shows the risk to be closer to between 1 in 320,000 and 1 in 80,000. Women giving birth with an epidural are actually now thought to be at the lowest risk of lasting harm. The highest risk patients are the elderly (risk of 1 in 6,000 to 1 in 12,000).
Tim Cook, a consultant anaesthetist at the Royal United Hospital, Bath, who led the project, said: “What the project has shown is that many complications of epidurals occur after major surgery in elderly unhealthy patients. The risks must also be balanced against the generally accepted benefits of epidurals.”