Australian hospitals have been advised to encourage women in hospitals – at risk of going into preterm labor – to take magnesium sulphate to reduce the risks of their babies developing various neurological problems. Research has come from various sources, including an article entitled, “A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Magnesium Sulfate for the Prevention of Cerebral Palsy,” from Rouse and colleagues, published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
All of it has shown that by administering this chemical compound to pregnant women just before they deliver a premature 22 to 30 week old fetus, cerebral palsy could be prevented. Indeed, according to the director of Adelaide University’s Research Centre for Health of Women and Babies, Professor Caroline Crowther, “this is the biggest breakthrough in world cerebral palsy prevention research in the past 50 years.”
When 6g bolus magnesium sulphate is injected into the mother, following by a continuous 2g per hour infusion of the compound at risk of preterm labor, the babies who survive have a greater chance of avoiding developing cerebral palsy. What has been found is that babies born prematurely (especially those who do not make it to the 34 week mark), have a much greater risk of being born with neurological problems and cerebral palsy. In these premature babies, developing cerebral palsy has been linked to the increased incidence of intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH).
For around 20 years, studies have shown that the risk of IVH can be reduced with magnesium sulphate. But unfortunately, using this compound as a preventive measure has not been seen as a legitimate treatment. But now, a trial with 6145 babies found that when women who were thought to be at risk of delivering a baby prematurely received the compound, the fetus received neuroprotection. With this, there was minimal side effects to the mother.