Magnesium Sulfate May Reduce Cerebral Palsy Rates

August 27, 2008

Use of magnesium sulfate in mothers at high risk of early preterm delivery was associated with less occurrence of moderate or severe cerebral palsy in surviving offspring, according to study findings published in the Aug. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Use of magnesium sulfate in mothers at high risk of early preterm delivery was associated with less occurrence of moderate or severe cerebral palsy in surviving offspring, according to study findings published in the Aug. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dwight J. Rouse, M.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues analyzed data from 2,241 women who were randomized to receive placebo or magnesium sulfate, which was given as a 6-gram loading dose followed by a maintenance infusion of 2 grams per hour. Subjects were at 24 to 31 weeks of gestation and had ruptured membranes or advanced preterm labor. The primary outcome was a composite of stillbirth, infant death by 1 year of age, or moderate or severe cerebral palsy at or beyond 2 years of age, with ages corrected for prematurity.

The rate of the primary outcome wasn't significantly different between the groups, the researchers report. However, moderate or severe cerebral palsy occurred significantly less frequently in the treatment group than the placebo group (1.9 versus 3.5 percent), the authors write.

"These results provide additional reassurance that magnesium sulfate, when used for neuroprotection, does not significantly increase neonatal or infant mortality and, therefore, that the reduction in the rates of cerebral palsy with the use of magnesium sulfate does not seem to be attributable to higher mortality rates among infants with brain damage," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

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