These methods (epidural anesthesia, spinal anesthesia, or a combination of both methods) are commonly used for pain relief during labor or for cesarean deliveries because they are immediately effective, the failure and complication rates are low, ambulation is possible, and they do not seem to interfere with the progress of labor (Mattingly 2003, Albright 2000). Among the many anesthetics used are lido-caine, bupivacaine, ropivacaine, and fentanyl. These agents have already been discussed individually (see above). Most studies looking at the effects of this type of anesthesia on the newborn infant showed some slight and transitory effects, with clearing of symptoms and elimination of the drugs from the infant's circulation within 24 hours. There seem to be no studies on the possible long-term effects of cpidural/spinal analgesia on the development of the children.
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For many years, scientists have been playing out the ingredients that make breast milk the perfect food for babies. They've discovered to day over 200 close compounds to fight infection, help the immune system mature, aid in digestion, and support brain growth - nature made properties that science simply cannot copy. The important long term benefits of breast feeding include reduced risk of asthma, allergies, obesity, and some forms of childhood cancer. The more that scientists continue to learn, the better breast milk looks.