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Researchers Debate Benefits of Prenatal Magnesium Sulfate

Last Updated: July 06, 2009.

Although debate continues about the ability of prenatal magnesium sulfate to prevent cerebral palsy in preterm infants, the weight of evidence suggests that it may be beneficial, according to three studies published in the June issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

MONDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- Although debate continues about the ability of prenatal magnesium sulfate to prevent cerebral palsy in preterm infants, the weight of evidence suggests that it may be beneficial, according to three studies published in the June issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

In one study, Augustin Conde-Agudelo, M.D., of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and a colleague conducted a meta-analysis of six randomized controlled trials involving 4,796 women and 5,357 infants at risk of preterm delivery. They found that antenatal magnesium sulfate was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of cerebral palsy (relative risk, 0.69).

In a second study, Alison G. Cahill, M.D., of Washington University in St. Louis, and a colleague argue that well-designed and executed studies on the use of magnesium sulfate for neuroprophylaxis in preterm infants still have not sufficiently answered whether or not the therapy actually prevents cerebral palsy. In a third study, Dwight J. Rouse, M.D., of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, analyzed three recent large-scale trials of antenatal magnesium sulfate. He argues that there is strong support for using magnesium sulfate to lower the risk of cerebral palsy, and calculates that such therapy has the potential to prevent 1,000 cases per year of handicapping cerebral palsy in the United States.

"Magnesium sulfate offers us the opportunity to improve the neurodevelopmental future of fetuses destined to deliver at early gestational ages," Rouse concludes.

Abstract - Conde-Agudelo
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Abstract - Cahill
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Abstract - Rouse
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