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Is Magnesium Sulfate for Prevention or only Therapeutic in Preeclampsia?


Yuen Tannirandorn, MD*

* Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University


Intravenously administered magnesium sulfate is effective in reducing the incidence of eclampsia in women with severe preeclampsia. However, the routine use of magnesium sulfate in all cases of preeclampsia is not justified as the incidence of eclampsia is likely to be lower in milder cases than in those with severe disease, and also in view of the adverse effects of magnesium sulfate. Magnesium sulfate should be considered for women with preeclampsia for whom there is concern about the risk of eclampsia, such as hyperreflexia, frontal headache, blurred vision, and epigastric tenderness. As it is an inexpensive drug, it is especially suitable for use in low income countries. Intravenous administration is preferable, where there are appropriate resources, as side effects and injection site problems seem lower. Duration of treatment should not normally exceed 24 hours, and if the intravenous route is used for maintenance therapy the dose should not exceed 1 g/hour. Serum monitoring is not necessary. Clinical monitoring of respiration, tendon reflexes and urine out put are enough for monitoring of magnesium toxicity. Administration and clinical monitoring of magnesium sulfate can be done by medical, a midwife or nursing staff, provided they are appropriately trained. However, the use of magnesium sulfate should not be misconstrued as a license for reduced surveillance of preeclamptic women. Progression from mild to severe disease and development of serious maternal complications during antepartum, intrapartum and postpartum cannot be predicted without close maternal surveillance. Therefore, continued close antepartum, intrapartum, and postpartum surveillance is crucial for optimal maternal and perinatal outcomes.

Keyword : Magnesium sulfate, Preeclampsia

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