Text Size: a  |   a 

Cerebral Palsy Can be Reduced in Preterm Babies if Moms are Given Magnesium Sulfate

December 28, 2017

Researchers say giving pregnant women at risk of preterm birth magnesium sulfate can prevent cerebral palsy and reduce the combined risk of fetal/infant death. Research institutes from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and France worked together on the study, “Assessing the neuroprotective benefits for babies of antenatal magnesium sulphate: An individual participant data meta-analysis.”

Premature birth, which occurs before 37 weeks of gestation, is a risk factor that can lead to death in the first weeks of life. Preterm babies also have a higher rate of cerebral palsy. The short-term use of magnesium sulfate for fetal neuroprotection before early preterm delivery and short-term prolongation of pregnancy has been supported by the medical community.

Researchers plan to evaluate the effects before birth magnesium sulfate given to pregnant women who are at risk of preterm birth with important maternal and fetal outcomes. They also assessed whether the effects of treatment varied according to the treatment characteristics or study participants.

Researchers statistically analyzed each of the participant’s data from several, yet similar, studies. Five randomized trials with 5,493 women at risk of preterm birth who received antenatal magnesium sulfate or a control treatment were analyzed. Neurological measures of 6,131 babies were also analyzed.

Treatment with magnesium sulfate demonstrated a strong protective effect on babies who survived preterm birth, specifically in regards to cerebral palsy. No matter what the reason was for premature birth, magnesium sulfate had shown a clinical benefit at different preterm gestational ages.

Researchers concluded that, “Antenatal magnesium sulphate given prior to preterm birth for fetal neuroprotection prevents CP [cerebral palsy] and reduces the combined risk of fetal/infant death of CP.” They also stated that regardless of the reason for preterm birth, the benefit was seen. They believe that, “widespread adoption of this relatively inexpensive, easy-to-administer treatment would lead to important global health benefits for infants born preterm.”