No pain, all gain: why giving birth is plain sailing for 1% of ...

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No pain, all gain: why giving birth is plain sailing for 1% of women

Lucky few have gene that acts as ‘natural epidural’ during labour. Docs hope this will help develop new drugs

Phoebe Southworth

One in 100 women carries a gene that raises the pain threshold, allowing them to give birth without anaesthetic, a study has found.

The genetic variant, known as KCNG4, acts as a “natural epidural”, inhibiting pain signals to the brain during contractions. Scientists from the University of Cambridge compared 33 women who were delivering their first child and did not request any pain relief during an uncomplicated vaginal delivery with a control group of 33 women who were given pain relief during delivery of their firstborn.

Two women in the first group carried KCNG4, a much higher proportion than average...

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