Condition category
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
Epidural anaesthesia, often referred to as an epidural, is an injection in the lower back that numbs the nerves and stops mothers from feeling pain during childbirth. It has been known for 25 years that the use of epidural anaesthesia during labour greatly increases the likelihood of a woman developing a high temperature (pyrexia). Pyrexia in labour is associated with brain conditions including neonatal encephalopathy, and in the long term, cerebral palsy. In addition, it is known to increase the proportion of babies admitted to neonatal units for sepsis workup and antibiotic treatment. However, few admissions turn out to be due to infection. Our current theory is that the mother feels cold in the lower half of her body which is anaesthetised, and this causes part of the brain called the hypothalamus to increase her temperature. Studies have suggested that warming the blood going to the hypothalamus by wearing a neck warmer helps to prevent this increase in temperature. The aim of this study is to test whether wearing a neck warmer reduces the maternal temperature rise associated with epidural analgesia in labour.

Who can participate?
Women treated with epidurals for analgesia in labour.

What does the study involve?
Participating women will be randomly allocated to wear a neck collar that is either warmed or left at room temperature. Their temperature will be taken every 4 hours, and the outcome of the labour will be recorded.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
The potential benefit is that mothers allocated to wear a neck warmer may not develop pyrexia, thus avoiding complications for her and her baby. There are no known risks of wearing the neck collar of itself, and when warmed, the neck collar is only 41°C, so there are no anticipated harmful effects.

Where is the study run from?
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital (UK).

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
The study ran from June 2009 to August 2011.

Who is funding the study?
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital (UK).

Who is the main contact?
Prof Philip Steer

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Prof Philip Steer


Contact details

Academic Obstetric Department
Chelsea and Westminster Hospital
369 Fulham Road
SW10 9NH
United Kingdom
+44 (0)2088467892

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

A randomised clinical trial of the paradoxical cooling effect of a neck warmer in the prevention of maternal pyrexia after insertion and management of low dose epidurals in labour


Study hypothesis

Wearing a neck warmer will paradoxically reduce the maternal temperature rise associated with epidural analgesia in labour.

Ethics approval

Riverside Research Ethics Committee, Charing Cross Hospital, 05/12/2008, ref: 08/H0706/105

Study design

Randomised controlled trial

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type


Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet


Fever in women with epidural analgesia during labour


Intervention group: Neck warmer worn during labour
Control group: No intervention

Intervention type



Not Applicable

Drug names

Primary outcome measures

Maternal temperature rise during labour

Secondary outcome measures

1. Neonatal temperature at 15 minutes post delivery
2. Change in baseline foetal heart rate on cardiotocography (CTG) from the time that the epidural was sited until delivery
3. Apgar scores at 1 and 5 minutes
4. Percentage of neonates admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
5. Number of hours of maternal shivering during labour
6. Percentage of women given paracetamol for fever in labour
7. Mode of delivery
8. Rise in inflammatory markers (IL-6 and C-reactive protein [CRP])

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned


Participant inclusion criteria

1. Women (no age limit) with epidurals for analgesia in labour
2. Nulliparous women (more likely to have labours >6 hours)
3. Cervical dilatation no more than 4 cm (more likely to have labours >6 hours)
4. First labour (more likely to have labours >6 hours)
5. Gestation >36 weeks (more likely to have labours > 6 hours)

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Participant exclusion criteria

1. Pre-existing fever >37.5 degrees C (fever caused by something other than the epidural)
2. Concurrent maternal disease, including pre-eclampsia (pro-inflammatory state)
3. Multiple pregnancy (physiology of labour exaggerated)
4. Patients receiving steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs within 6 hours (may influence the temperature and interleukin 6 [IL-6])

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Academic Obstetric Department
SW10 9NH
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust (UK)

Sponsor details

Chelsea and Westminster R&D Department
369 Fulham Road
SW10 9NH
United Kingdom

Sponsor type




Funder type

Hospital/treatment centre

Funder name

Joint Research Committee grant, Chelsea & Westminster Hospital (UK) (ref: 08/09 SG 015)

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Not provided at time of registration

Intention to publish date

Participant level data

Not provided at time of registration

Results - basic reporting

Publication summary

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes