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December 11, 1996

Magnesium Sulfate and Risk of Cerebral Palsy in Very Low-Birth-Weight Infants

Author Affiliations

From the Neuroepidemiology Branch, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.

JAMA. 1996;276(22):1843-1844. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540220067034

Very low-birth-weight infants, those born weighing less than 1500 g, are at high risk for neurologic disability: 1 in 20 survivors has disabling cerebral palsy,1 and many have other neurologic or sensory difficulties. Mortality among these tiny infants, almost all of whom are very premature, has decreased strikingly, but the rate of births in that weight group has not lessened. The increasing contribution of this group to the burden of disability is a source of concern.2 A measure that might reduce neurologic morbidity among surviving very low-birth-weight infants would be desirable indeed.

See also p 1805.

Recent studies3,4 have found that prenatal exposure to magnesium sulfate in very low-birth-weight infants was associated with reduction in cerebral palsy. Dr Schendel and colleagues5 have now confirmed and extended these findings. The contribution of their work is 3-fold: First, they provide evidence that the inverse association of magnesium sulfate