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Magnesium Sulphate to Prevent Cerebral Palsy following Preterm Birth (Scientific Impact Paper No. 29)

Published: 28/09/2011

This is the first edition of this Scientific Impact Paper.

The prevalence of preterm birth is increasing. While the survival of infants born preterm has improved, the prevalence of cerebral palsy has risen.

The incidence of cerebral palsy decreases significantly with increasing gestational age: 14.6% at 22–27 weeks of gestation, 6.2% at 28–31 weeks, 0.7% at 32–36 weeks and 0.1% in term infants. Twenty-five percent of all cases of cerebral palsy are in infants born at less than 34 weeks of gestation. In children born preterm the proportion whose cerebral palsy is considered to have a perinatal origin (49%) is greater than in those born at term (35%).

Strategies to reduce cerebral palsy in these infants should be considered and implemented if shown to be effective in order to reduce the effects of this disabling condition on individuals, families, health care and society.