Lower-back tattoos may carry birthing risk
Updated Sat. Feb. 19 2005 7:49 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Those lower-back tattoos that are all the rage amongst some young women could have medical consequences down the road.
A consensus is growing that pregnant women with the body artwork won't be able to get pain-relieving epidurals when it comes time to give birth.
"There will be people who may recommend no epidural. I don't know whether anyone in our group wouldn't perform one, but it would be something we'd have to talk about with patients," says Dr. Mark Kostach, a Calgary anesthesiologist.
The worst case scenario? "Possibly paralysis," he says.
It depends on the chemicals in the tattoo's dye, and whether or not they might somehow seep into the lower lumbar area of the spine, affecting the nervous system.
The area targeted by the epidural and the most currently popular area for female tattoos intersect.
"I never really knew anything about it," says one tattoo-adorned woman.
"That's a really popular spot. So considering how many women are out there that have them on their lower backs, I'm pretty sure that more research should be done it," tattoo artist Heather McLean told CTV News. "Because there's going to be more and more girls having babies that have huge pieces on their lower backs."
Right now, there is no consensus either way in the medical community as to the significance of the risk.
"We won't know until 10 years from now, when more women have had epidurals," Kostach says.
Until then, anesthesiologists will try to look for ink-free areas to administer epidurals -- and tattooed women may have to suffer for their desire to have both body art and babies.