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Reported December 29, 2003

Magnesium Prevents Cerebral Palsy?

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Research shows babies who are born premature are more likely to develop cerebral palsy than babies born at a normal weight. But a drug commonly used to delay premature labor may also help prevent CP.

So far, life is good for Milele L.K. Bynum’s 22-month-old twins. She says: “They’re doing great. They’re very healthy, very happy children.”

But they got off to a rough start. They were born nearly three months early. Milele knew babies born that premature faced the risk of neurological damage and possibly cerebral palsy. “And it was definitely scary. You want your children to be born healthy and happy, and you feel like you have no control over it,” she tells Ivanhoe. But doctors gave Milele magnesium sulfate when she was in the hospital. It’s been used for decades to delay labor, but studies now show it may have an added benefit for premature babies.

“There are some observational data to suggest that magnesium might be able to protect newborn brains from cerebral palsy,” says gynecologist John Thorp, M.D., of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill. If a current study confirms that, more mothers could receive magnesium to prevent CP in their preemies. Dr. Thorp says, “And it’s cheap, simple, available in labor and deliveries throughout the world.”

The more premature a baby is, the higher the risk of CP. Extremely low-birth weight babies -- weighing less than 2.2 pounds -- have a risk that’s at least 70-times higher than normal birth weight babies.

Milele believes the magnesium she received in the hospital is at least partly responsible for the fact that her twins are maturing normally. “I have faith that it did, and I’m going to believe that,” she says.

While magnesium has some minor side effects, including hot flashes and nausea, doctors say it is safe for both mothers and their babies.


This article was reported by, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to:


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