News: MgSO4 may reduce threat of cerebral palsy

October 1, 2008

Giving magnesium sulfate to mothers at high risk of early preterm delivery reduces the risk of cerebral palsy in surviving offspring.

Giving magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) to mothers at high risk of early preterm delivery reduces the risk of moderate or severe cerebral palsy (CP) in surviving offspring, according to study findings published in the Aug. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dwight J. Rouse, MD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues analyzed data from 2,241 women who were randomized to receive placebo or MgSO4, which was given as a 6-g loading dose followed by a maintenance infusion of 2 g per hour. Subjects were at 24 to 31 weeks' 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 CP 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 CP occurred significantly less frequently in the treatment group than the placebo group (1.9% vs. 3.5%), the authors write.

Rouse DJ, Hirtz DG, Thom E, et al. A randomized, controlled trial of magnesium sulfate for the prevention of cerebral palsy. N Engl J Med. 2008;359:895-905.