Recently, WakeMed Maternal Fetal Medicine doctors, James Edwards and Laura Edwards, achieved national recognition when their research article was published in the American Journal of Perinatology. The article is titled, “Effect of Cord Blood Magnesium Level at Birth on Non-neurologic Neonatal Outcomes,” and below, Dr. James Edwards explains its premise.
Understanding the Effects of Magnesium Sulfate on Neonatal Outcomes
The main goal of this research project was to understand the non-neurologic effects of magnesium sulfate on neonatal outcomes. Magnesium sulfate is a medication used frequently in obstetrics for different reasons, most commonly for neonatal neuroprotection in attempts to prevent cerebral palsy in preterm babies or for maternal seizure prevention in the setting of preeclampsia.
Much is known about the beneficial effects in these two particular scenarios, but less is known about other effects this medication exposure may have on the newborn baby. In fact, there are questions about whether it may cause adverse outcomes with regards to baby bowel function.
We found that magnesium sulfate exposure (as indicated by newborn magnesium blood levels) is not associated with adverse outcomes, meaning that this intervention does not likely cause harm for the newborn. We did see an association with improved neurologic outcomes for babies who had higher levels of magnesium sulfate at birth.
Currently, we have not changed practice patterns at WakeMed based on this research, but it does give us confidence in using this medication that we are not causing any unknown harm. We are also working towards timing doses appropriately so that we are able to maximize the benefits of this medication while reducing the risks.
About James Edwards, MD
Dr. James Edwards is a maternal fetal medicine doctor with WakeMed Physician Practices – Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Dr. Edwards has clinical interests in the effects of maternal infection and medical complications on the developing baby and newborn. Learn more about Dr. Edwards here.
About Laura Edwards, MD
Dr. Laura Edwards is a a neonatologist with clinical interests in the follow-up care of premature and sick full-term infants after they are discharged from the neonatal intensive care unit. Learn more about Dr. Edwards here.