Magnesium Sulfate in Pregnancy May Not Affect Development

Magnesium sulfate protected against cerebral palsy in premature babies but did not affect development

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) While magnesium sulfate is known to protect against cerebral palsy, its effects on other measures of development are largely unknown. But a new study suggests the medicine doesn't affect kids in other ways.

Babies born before the routine nine months face an increased risk of brain and other problems. This has led some doctors to prescribe magnesium sulfate to moms set to give birth early.

New research from Australia and New Zealand found no impact of magnesium sulfate on kids who were born early.

"Manage your pregnancy with an OB-GYN."

Lex Doyle, MD, of the University of Melbourne, and colleagues looked at the long-term effects on premature babies whose mothers received magnesium sulfate before they gave birth.

There’s an established link between magnesium sulfate given to women who give birth early and a reduced risk of cerebral palsy for the baby, the study authors noted.

Dr. Doyle and team reviewed growth, behavior and brain function measures in children who received magnesium sulfate in utero and were born before 30 weeks.

The study authors gave magnesium sulfate to 535 pregnant women and a placebo to 527 pregnant women.

They followed up with 669 of the children, ages 6 to 11, and found that magnesium sulfate had no apparent effects on development.

“Despite a reasonable power of finding true differences if any existed, none were found,” the authors wrote.

They pointed out that, despite the study outcomes, magnesium sulfate still reduces the risk of cerebral palsy, a brain and nervous system disorder that can affect body control.

The study was published online Sept. 16 in JAMA.

The National Health and Medical Research Council Australia and the Victorian Government Operational Infrastructure Support Program funded the study. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 15, 2014
Last Updated:
September 17, 2014