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Magnesium sulphate given to mothers during labour may reduce fever related complications

Posted:  Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mothers experiencing labour are generally given epidural or spinal anaesthesia. However, one known complication of that would be maternal fever wherein the mother reports a body temperature of 100.4⁰ Fahrenheit or above. Maternal fever during labour could lead to an array of complications in newborns such as difficult breathing, seizures, cerebral palsy and "floppy baby syndrome" (inadequate muscle tone). A new study has now found that pregnant women who received intravenous magnesium sulphate during labour were less likely to develop maternal fever.

The findings of this retrospective study were presented at the 2015 ANESTHESIOLOGY® annual meeting in San Diego. For the study, the researchers evaluated data of 63,000 live births from the Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Among this population, 9.8% (6163) women developed maternal fever. This group was characterised as women giving birth for the first time, were given epidural or spinal anaesthesia, had no history of preeclampsia, and underwent caesarean delivery.

Of the women with fever, 2,190 received intravenous magnesium for prevention or management of other pregnancy related conditions. The researchers found that the incidence of maternal fever was lower (4.3%) in this group compared to those who did not receive magnesium infusion (9.9%). Earlier animal studies had found that magnesium sulphate suppresses interleukin-6, a signalling molecule in the immune system. This molecule is known to modulate maternal temperature.

"The most important finding in this study is that magnesium appears to have a protective effect on maternal fever during labour. By reducing the incidence of maternal fever, magnesium sulphate therapy may also reduce the incidence of complications in newborns," said the researchers. However, they call for further studies to understand how best to use magnesium sulphate to prevent fever and how long to administer it for a beneficial effect.

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