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Examining the Evidence

Does maternal exposure to magnesium sulfate affect fetal heart-rate patterns?

October 2012 · Vol. 24, No. 10
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In contemporary obstetrics, electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) is used almost universally, and magnesium sulfate often is administered for seizure prophylaxis, tocolysis, or preterm neuroprotection. Given that magnesium crosses the placenta and is known to have both neurologic and cardiac effects and toxicities, it has been speculated that magnesium sulfate may change various characteristics of the fetal heart rate (FHR). Previous studies in small animals have failed to answer this common clinical question.

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