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Arch Argent Pediatr. 2012 Aug;110(4):291-6. doi: 10.1590/S0325-00752012000400004.

Effectiveness of magnesium sulfate as initial treatment of acute severe asthma in children, conducted in a tertiary-level university hospital: a randomized, controlled trial.

[Article in English, Spanish]

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Department of Mother and Child Health, Hospital Austral, Buenos Aires, Argentina.



Magnesium sulfate is a calcium antagonist that inhibits bronchial smooth muscle contraction promoting bronchodilation. It is used for the management of acute severe asthma in children; however most of the studies have been performed in adults.


To evaluate the effectiveness of intravenous magnesium sulfate for the treatment of pediatric patients with acute severe asthma exacerbations.


A clinical, randomized, controlled trial was conducted between March 2006 and March 2011 at Hospital Universitario Austral. Children with acute severe asthma admitted to the emergency department were randomized into two groups. Group A (control group): standard protocol for the initial treatment of acute asthma exacerbation. Group B: treatment protocol with magnesium sulphate for acute severe asthma exacerbation. The primary outcome was the requirement of invasive or non invasive mechanical ventilation support.


One hundred and forty three patients randomized into 2 groups were analyzed. The treatment group included 76 patients receiving magnesium sulfate within the first hour of the initiation of rescue treatment at the hospital, and the control group included 67 patients not treated with magnesium sulphate. Among the patients in the control group, 33% (n= 22) required mechanical ventilation support, compared to only 5% (n= 4) of the patients in the treatment group (p = 0.001).


Intravenous infusion of magnesium sulfate during the first hour of hospitalization in patients with acute severe asthma significantly reduced the percentage of children who required mechanical ventilation support.

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