Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008

Cerebral Palsy: Epsom Salts Lower Risk

Advances in neonatal care make it possible to save more and more premature babies, but while the preemies' lives are spared, their brains may not be. Preterm birth accounts for about a third of all cases of cerebral palsy (CP), a developmental disorder that strikes 2 out of every 1,000 U.S. newborns. Some experts predict that as the number of preemie survivors climbs, the population of kids with CP will move in lockstep. But a study of 2,241 pregnant women has delivered encouraging news. Researchers found that if mothers take magnesium sulfate — commonly known as Epsom salts — just hours before giving birth at 24 to 31 weeks of gestation (40 weeks is full term), the odds that their infants will develop moderate to severe cerebral palsy drop by almost half.