Media/New Guidelines Could Help Save Live of Premature Babies

New Guidelines Could Help Save Live of Premature Babies

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Leading obstetric and neonatal specialists are calling on Australian hospitals to implement groundbreaking new guidelines that have the potential to save the lives of, or minimise cerebral palsy risks in, up to 147 Australian babies each year.

The guidelines, which are the focus of discussion this week at the Perinatal Society of Australia & New Zealand (PSANZ) Conference in Sydney, recommend the administration of magnesium sulphate to pregnant women immediately prior to a very premature birth (22 – 30 weeks) to help prevent cerebral palsy.

However, despite this being a groundbreaking step for the prevention of cerebral palsy and death in very premature babies, Professor Caroline Crowther, Director of the University of Adelaide’s Australian Research Centre for Health of Women and Babies, says that the therapy remains underused.

“This is the biggest breakthrough in world cerebral palsy prevention research in the past 50 years and has come via research throughout the world with Australian research teams and funding leading,” says Professor Crowther.

“Implementation of these guidelines has the potential to save the lives, or minimise cerebral palsy risks, in up to 147 Australian babies each year.”

Macquarie Group Foundation Chair of Cerebral Palsy, Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Professor Nadia Badawi, said although magnesium sulphate therapy was being effectively used in South Australia, the aim is to have it implemented in specialist hospitals around the country.

“While the magnesium sulphate treatment is endorsed by the Royal Australian and NZ College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, more work needs to be done to ensure that all expectant Australian mothers have access to it in case they go into very preterm labour,” Professor Badawi said.

“Every year in Australia, over 1500 women give birth to very premature babies, between 22 and 30 weeks’ gestation. 15% of these babies are at risk of dying in the first weeks of life or later having cerebral palsy.

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Released on 20 Mar 2012