SMFM: Magnesium Sulfate May Prevent Cerebral Palsy

January 31, 2008

In women with anticipated early preterm delivery, intravenous maternal magnesium sulfate administration is associated with a 50 percent lower risk of moderate to severe cerebral palsy in their offspring, according to research presented this week at the 28th annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Dallas.

THURSDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- In women with anticipated early preterm delivery, intravenous maternal magnesium sulfate administration is associated with a 50 percent lower risk of moderate to severe cerebral palsy in their offspring, according to research presented this week at the 28th annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Dallas.

Dwight J. Rouse, M.D., of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues randomly assigned 2,241 women who had preterm premature rupture of membranes, advanced preterm labor, or indicated delivery from 24-31 weeks' gestation and no signs of preeclampsia, to receive either placebo or intravenous treatment with 6 grams of magnesium sulfate followed by administration of 2 grams of magnesium sulfate per hour.

Compared to the placebo group, the researchers found that magnesium sulfate had no effect on reducing rates of the primary study outcome: a composite of moderate or severe cerebral palsy at the corrected age of 2 years or death (relative risk, 0.97). But they found that magnesium sulfate was associated with a dramatically lower risk of moderate to severe cerebral palsy alone (RR, 0.55).

"[Magnesium sulfate] did not reduce the rate of the primary outcome of moderate to severe cerebral palsy or death, perhaps because death was the predominant component of the outcome," the authors write.

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