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Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2010 Jun;24(3):327-37. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2009.11.004. Epub 2009 Dec 14.

Magnesium in obstetrics.

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Department of Anaesthesia, University of Cape Town Medical School, South Africa.


Magnesium is a critical physiological ion, and magnesium deficiency might contribute to the development of pre-eclampsia, to impaired neonatal development and to metabolic problems extending into adult life. Pharmacologically, magnesium is a calcium antagonist with substantial vasodilator properties but without myocardial depression. Cardiac output usually increases following magnesium administration, compensating for the vasodilatation and minimising hypotension. Neurologically, the inhibition of calcium channels and antagonism of the N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor raises the possibility of neuronal protection, and magnesium administration to women with premature labour may decrease the incidence of cerebral palsy. It is the first-line anticonvulsant for the management of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, and it should be administered to all patients with severe pre-eclampsia or eclampsia. Magnesium is a moderate tocolytic but the evidence for its effectiveness remains disputed. The side effects of magnesium therapy are generally mild but the major hazard of magnesium therapy is neuromuscular weakness.

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