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The placenta, responsible for intrauterine development, can facilitate modifications within the placental epigenome in response to changes in the mother. In turn these changes have the potential to also influence the neonate1. Pain relief during delivery is widely used and frequently involves the use of nitrous oxide (N2O, commonly referred to as laughing gas), and pudendal blocks. These treatments, alone or in combination, are generally accepted as safe methods of providing pain relief to mothers. However, laughing gas and local anesthetics such as the ones used during pudendal blocks have been known to cross the placental barrier from mother to child2,3. Furthermore, although current literature about the effects of laughing gas and pudendal blocks on the epigenome, when used as maternal pain relief, is very limited, some evidence implicates effects of obstetric anesthesia on the neonatal methylome2,4,5. Thus, it is reasonable to hypothesize that obstetric pain relief administered to the mother during childbirth may affect the methylome of the child. In conclusion, we detected methylome-wide significantly associated loci for laughing gas and pudendal block treatment when studied in combination, but not for either of the treatments separately.
Epigenetics, maternal pain relief, neonatal methylome, laughing gas, pudendal block
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Karolina A. Aberg
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