Papers And Originals

Clinical Trials of Different Concentrations of Oxygen and Nitrous Oxide for Obstetric Analgesia: Report to the Medical Research Council of the Committee on Nitrous Oxide and Oxygen Analgesia in Midwifery

Br Med J 1970; 1 doi: (Published 21 March 1970) Cite this as: Br Med J 1970;1:709


Trials have been organized by a Medical Research Council committee to assess the effectiveness and safety for analgesia in labour of oxygen and nitrous oxide mixtures in different proportions. In a preliminary trial concentrations of 50% and 60% v/v nitrous oxide were compared, but, as the replies of 409 mothers revealed little difference between the two, the results of administering either 50% or 70% nitrous oxide to 778 mothers were then compared. The data relating to normal labour, obtained on 501 of the mothers in this main trial, showed that the relief of pain given was much the same. There was a suggestion, however, that the higher concentration of nitrous oxide might be useful in abnormal labour. The proportion of mothers with normal deliveries who lost consciousness, though very small, was significantly higher with 70% nitrous oxide than with the lower concentration. Ninety-two per cent. of mothers found the gas and oxygen machine helpful, and midwives reported complete or good co-operation by 77% of those using it. It is concluded that the 50% oxygen and 50% nitrous oxide mixture can safely be used by unsupervised midwives.


  • * Members of the Committee: Professor Sir Dugald Baird (chairman); Miss Josephine Barnes, Professor J. C. McClure Browne, Dr. E. Ring (Observer, Department of Health and Social Security), Professor Richard Doll, F.R.S., Dr. A. G. Doughty, Mr. I. D. Hill, Professor W. W. Mushin, Professor Sir Geoffrey Organe, Dr. E. E. Philipp, Professor J. D. Robertson, Professor J. P. M. Tizard, Dr. W. N. Rollason (secretary). Members of Subcommittee: Dr. P. V. Cole, Dr. J. Selwyn Crawford, Dr. A. G. Doughty, Dr. H. G. Epstein, Mr. I. D. Hill, Dr. W. N. Rollason, Dr. M. E. Tunstall.