Babies who are born prematurely (less than 30 weeks gestation) are at more risk of developing cerebral palsy. There is growing evidence that giving magnesium sulphate (MgSO4) to mothers before birth can protect the brain during premature labour and birth (see links to papers below).
The West of England Academic Health and Science Network (AHSN) ran a quality improvement project in 2014 to raise the profile of magnesium sulphate as a neuroprotector. Over the course of six months five maternity units increased the administration of MgSO4 to eligible mothers from an average baseline of 21% in the two years preceding the project to 88%.
The evaluation is available here.
As part of the 2018-2023 licence for AHSNs, NHS England has commissioned a number of national programmes for implementation across all 15 AHSNs. One of these is Preventing Cerebral Palsy in Preterm Labour (PReCePT) – a multi-organisational quality improvement approach to the adoption and spread of MgSO4.
The aim is to reduce the number of very preterm babies born with cerebral palsy by up to 700 per year by increasing the uptake of MgSO4 in eligible mothers to 85% or more. The programme will be implemented over 2018/19 and 2019/20.
PReCePT Thames Valley is delivered by midwives overseen by Dr Mark Anthony, Regional PReCePT Lead, alongwith the Oxford Patient Safety Collaborative.
Further information in these papers:
- Doyle, L et Al (2008), Cochrane Review
- Crowther, C et Al (2017), Assessing the neuroprotective benefits for babies of antenatal magnesium sulphate
Read more about the national PReCePT programme here.