Skip to content

    Health & Baby

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Last-Minute Treatment May Help Preemies

    Giving Magnesium Sulfate Just Before Birth May Fight Cerebral Palsy
    By
    WebMD Health News

    Nov. 25, 2003 -- Giving women who are about to give birth to a very premature infant a dose of magnesium sulfate may help reduce the baby's risk of neurological problems like cerebral palsy.

    A new report shows the last-minute treatment appears to be safe for both mother and child, but researchers stress that this finding needs to be repeated in further studies before it's adopted as standard practice.

    Infants who are born very prematurely at less than 30 weeks of gestation are at increased risk of death as well as neurological problems or disabilities. A full-term pregnancy is between 38 and 42 weeks of gestation.

    Treatment Shows Promise

    Researchers say although some previous studies have suggested that magnesium sulfate might help protect the brains of premature infants against complications, there hadn't been any large, randomized, controlled studies to look at the issue.

    In this study, published in the Nov. 26 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers compared the effects of magnesium sulfate vs. placebo in 1,062 women with fetuses under 30 weeks' gestation who were expected to give birth within 24 hours.

    The women were randomly assigned to receive either an infusion of magnesium sulfate or a placebo solution intravenously for up to 24 hours before birth, and then researchers followed the women and their babies for about two years.

    Researchers found that the children of women who got the magnesium sulfate had lower risks of death and cerebral palsy compared with the others, but those differences were not significantly different.

    However, there was a significant reduction in other neurological problems, such as muscular abnormalities.

    Researchers say although the study did not show differences in some of the treatment outcomes, the decrease in muscular problems could have potentially important treatment implications and merit further study.

    Baby's First Year Newsletter

    Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

    Today on WebMD

    mother on phone holding baby
    When you should call 911.
    parents and baby
    Unexpected ways your life will change.
     
    baby acne
    What’s normal – and what’s not.
    baby asleep on moms shoulder
    Help your baby get the sleep he needs.
     

    mother holding baby at night
    ARTICLE
    mother with sick child
    QUIZ
     
    Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
    SLIDESHOW
    Track Your Babys Vaccines
    TOOL
     
    Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
    Slideshow
    Mother with her baby boy
    Article
     
    baby in crib
    Slideshow
    baby gear slideshow
    Slideshow