Is magnesium sulfate safe for babies?

Magnesium sulfate is an inorganic salt that may have a variety of health benefits during pregnancy. It can be prescribed to mothers in order to treat preeclampsia or eclampsia (1). Additionally, when premature birth is expected, it can be used to protect a baby’s brain. There is evidence that antenatal magnesium sulfate reduces the risk of cerebral palsy (2), periventricular leukomalacia (3), and intraventricular hemorrhage (4). Additionally, magnesium sulfate may be able to delay premature birth for several days or longer. This gives medical professionals the time to provide interventions such as betamethasone, a corticosteroid that can help accelerate fetal development and protect against premature birth-related injuries (5, 6). 

However, does the use of magnesium sulfate in pregnancy pose other risks to developing babies? Emily Shepherd and colleagues recently conducted an investigation on this topic. 

Methods Pregnancy

Shepherd and her co-authors searched a variety of databases, such as the Cochrane Library, Medline, and the Web of Science, for published articles on the use of antenatal magnesium sulfate. They looked for information on rates of perinatal death, as well as other negative outcomes for babies. The authors then conducted a meta-analysis, which included 197 studies. Each study was assessed for possible biases (1). 


Shepherd and colleagues found no clear association between the use of magnesium sulfate and perinatal death or other adverse outcomes. There were some non-randomized studies that had noted possible negative effects, but these studies often failed to adequately control for possible confounding factors, and were identified as having a moderate to high risk of bias. 

Overall, Shepherd and colleagues’ research suggests that the use of magnesium sulfate in pregnancy is unlikely to harm babies. However, they do note that further research on the topic is warranted, and that additional studies could help to shape safety recommendations on the use of this drug (1). 

Magnesium sulfate, birth injury prevention, and medical malpractice

Babies who are born prematurely are at higher risk of birth injuries, and may sustain forms of permanent brain damage resulting in  cerebral palsy (CP) and developmental delays. Magnesium sulfate is one treatment that can help to mitigate these risks. If a medical professional fails to prescribe magnesium sulfate or conduct other interventions to prevent birth injuries, this constitutes negligence. If negligence leads to permanent harm, it is medical malpractice

About ABC Law Centers Our Attorneys

ABC Law Centers was established to focus exclusively on birth injury cases. A “birth injury” is any type of harm to a baby that occurs just before, during, or after birth. This includes issues such as oxygen deprivation, infection, and trauma. While some children with birth injuries make a complete recovery, others develop disabilities such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Settlements from birth injury lawsuits can cover the costs of lifelong treatment, care, and other crucial resources. 

If you believe you may have a birth injury case for your child, please contact us today to learn more. We are happy to talk to you free of any obligation or charge. In fact, clients pay nothing throughout the entire legal process unless we win. 

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  1. Shepherd, E., Salam, R. A., Manhas, D., Synnes, A., Middleton, P., Makrides, M., & Crowther, C. A. (2019). Antenatal magnesium sulphate and adverse neonatal outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS Medicine, 16(12). 
  2. Crowther, C. A., Middleton, P. F., Voysey, M., Askie, L., Duley, L., Pryde, P. G., … & AMICABLE Group. (2017). Assessing the neuroprotective benefits for babies of antenatal magnesium sulphate: An individual participant data meta-analysis. PLoS medicine, 14(10), e1002398. 
  3. FineSmith, R. B., Roche, K., Yellin, P. B., Walsh, K. K., Shen, C., Zeglis, M., … & Fish, I. (1997). Effect of magnesium sulfate on the development of cystic periventricular leukomalacia in preterm infants. American journal of perinatology, 14(05), 303-307.
  4. Petrova, A., & Mehta, R. (2012). Magnesium sulfate tocolysis and intraventricular hemorrhage in very preterm infants. The Indian Journal of Pediatrics, 79(1), 43-47.
  5. Healthline (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2019, from
  6. Betamethasone (In-Utero Steroids for Premature Babies). (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2020, from

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