Ether is a fluid with a boiling point of 35°C. which is rarely used now; this is mainly because of its undesirable characteristics and complications, such as post-anesthesia vomiting and excitability. Ether crosses the placenta and rcaches the fetus within a few minutes, achieving a steady-state concentration. The extent of the newborn respiratory depression is dependent on the length and depth of the anesthesia. There seem to be no human epidemiologic studies regarding the possible effects of ether in pregnancy. In experimental studies in rats and mice, repeated use of ether anesthesia caused increased skeletal anomalies and decreased head growth (Schwetz 1970); again, these studies have little relevance for man.
Recommendation. Ether anesthesia is not indicated during pregnancy and labor, as other anesthetic agents are in use that have fewer side effects. However, it does not seem to be teratogenic, and hence increased damage to the fetus, if indeed it exists, seems to be negligible.
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