Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Preventing Cerebral Palsy

From ABC:

A simple treatment for women who go into premature labor can dramatically cut the risk for cerebral palsy in their babies. New research shows when mothers receive an infusion of magnesium sulfate - otherwise known as Epsom salt - it reduces the odds of moderate to severe cerebral palsy in their babies by nearly half.

Currently one third of all cases of cerebral palsy are linked to premature birth. But doctors have discovered a simple but effective treatment that lowers the risk for this neurological disorder in premature infants. Researchers at medical centers across America studied more than 2200 pregnant women who had signs of very early labor.

Around half the women received intravenous infusions of magnesium sulfate- also known as Epsom salt - while the other half received a placebo infusion. Results showed that babies whose mothers received the Epsom salt cut their risk for moderate to severe cerebral palsy by 45 percent. Doctors theorize that the treatment helps stabilize blood vessels in the mother, thereby keeping oxygen supplied to the baby's brain.

The authors say these findings represent one of the most promising breakthroughs in 30 years for pregnant women at high risk for premature delivery. FDA approval is not necessary for magnesium sulfate treatment, so doctors could begin using it immediately.

Source: Published in the New England Journal of Medicine by researchers at U Alabama, U Tennessee, Wayne State, U Texas, UNC Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, U Miami, Case Western, U Pittsburgh and others.

When I went into preterm labor with my youngest, I was on magnesium for several days. It was scary! My mag was to stop labor. I didn't realize there was more than one benefit.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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Diane Vespa said...

Jen I was on that Mag Sulfate for several days preceding the premature birth of our son. It has awful side affects but I'd take it every day for the rest of my life if it is what gave us a healthy son! Lol!

Knight in Dragonland said...

Magnesium relaxes smooth muscle - like the muscles of the uterus and the muscles that control the caliber of blood vessels. Mag has been used to stop preterm labor (tocolysis), although its effectiveness as a tocolytic is actually not well established by clinical studies despite its heavy use for that reason. During my wife's last pregnancy, the perinatologists at OSF were actually moving away from using mag sulfate to stop preterm labor. However, this new information may give OB's a different reason to use it ... much to the joy of pregnant mothers everywhere.

My wife has been on mag for periods up to 9 or 10 days during 4 of her 5 pregnancies, and she can wax poetic about how much it SUCKS. She was burning up (mag dilates blood vessels, causing skin flushing and increased perceived temp) and fighting headaches the whole time.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with claims anything can "prevent" cerebral palsy. Articles like this (along with the vaccine for CMV claiming to "prevent" CP) are misleading. In other words, people think, if only they get this or do that, their child won't get CP, as if you can catch it or something...
My child has CP and I believe a C-sec would have "prevented" it. She had a non reassuring heart rate and clear signs, in my opinion, of distress. Do I think all C-secs will prevent CP? No. Every case is different. Not all premature babies have brain defects, in turn resulting with cerebral palsy either.

Anonymous said...

Maybe more competent doctors who keep a closer eye on a woman in labor along with better medical care prevent cerebral palsy.

Rachael said...

Interesting! I was on magnesium sulfate for 3 days. I was under the impression it was to keep me from having seizures though because my blood pressure was sky high - preeclampsia. I think I was on it the day they did the emergency c-section and for 2 days after. It was nasty stuff. Bad memories!

As always - good stuff Jen. I love reading your blog! ;o)

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