Magnesium sulphate helps prevent eclamptic fits in pregnant women with pre-eclampsia ('toxaemia').
Some women have high blood pressure with protein in their urine during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia, or 'toxaemia'). Most women with pre-eclampsia give birth without problems. However, severe pre-eclampsia can cause problems such as stroke, kidney failure, liver failure, and blood clotting. A few women have seizures (eclampsia). These problems can lead to the baby being born too small or too soon. If the woman has eclampsia, both she and her baby are at high risk of death. Eclampsia is most common in low- and middle-income countries.
This review of 15 studies showed magnesium sulphate reduced the number of women having eclampsia, but did not improve the babies' health. Magnesium sulphate had side effects for the mother, mostly flushing. Follow-up of women and children is reassuring that there are no adverse effects later on.