(HealthDay News) — Although magnesium sulfate is routinely given to pregnant women at risk for very preterm delivery, new research suggests it won’t provide any long-term benefits for infants. The new findings were published in the September 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In conducting the study, Lex Doyle, MD, of the University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues randomly assigned pregnant women to receive magnesium sulfate or a placebo. A total of 535 women were given magnesium sulfate, while 527 were given a placebo. All of the participants, from throughout Australia and New Zealand, were about to deliver or expected to give birth <30 weeks of pregnancy. The researchers then followed up on nearly 700 of these children at school age, when they were between 6–11 years old.

No association was seen between treatment with magnesium sulfate during pregnancy and any long-term risks or benefits, compared with the placebo, the researchers found.

More research is needed to examine magnesium sulfate’s long-term benefits, the study authors concluded. However, the researchers also noted that these new findings don’t negate the fact that the drug is helpful in preventing cerebral palsy in infants.

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