A recent study shows that newborns with very low birthweights have a lower incidence of cerebral palsy (CP) when their mothers are treated with magnesium soon before giving birth. This research comes from a study sponsored by the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy is a large group of permanent movement disorders that always appear early in childhood. The symptoms of the condition include stiff muscles, tremors, poor coordination, and a predominant weakness of muscle function. Problems due to these issues can lead to difficulty with the senses, including; vision, hearing, swallowing and speaking.
Early indications of CP include a baby that will not roll over, sit, crawl, or walk as early as other children their age. This is due to the issues with muscle function. The difficulty with thinking or reasoning and even seizures occur in about one-third of people with CP. Symptoms get increasingly noticeable over the first years of life, the underlying problems do not worsen over time.
Cerebral palsy is caused by an abnormal development or even damage to parts of the brain that control movement, posture, and balance. Most often these problems occur during pregnancy; however, they may occur during childbirth, or shortly after birth. Often the cause is unknown.
How to Prevent CP
But now there is a link to a possible prevention of CP. In the study mentioned before, a group of 42 very low birthweight children who had moderate or severe congenital CP, to a control group of 75 very low birthweight children without the disability were then monitored to try and find a possible cause of CP.
Three of the 42 mothers of the children with CP and 29 of the &% mothers of the children in the control group received magnesium during pregnancy. The researchers concluded that magnesium seems to have a “protective effect” against CP in very low birthweight infants.
“This is intriguing finding means that use of a simple mineral could significantly decrease the incidence of cerebral palsy, and prevent lifelong disability and suffering for thousands of children.” Said Zach W. Hall, Ph.D., Director NINDS
The study was conducted on low birthweight babies since more than 1/3 of these newborns are diagnosed with CP. Low birthweight in a newborn is defined by those born weighing less than 1500 grams, or 3.3 pounds. There are approximately 52,000 very low birthweight babies born each year. Of these newborns, one in 20 who survives the very trying period will be diagnosed with CP.
The Miracle Mineral
Magnesium is slowly coming into the limelight of the wellness and medical field. Responsible for over 300 enzymatic functions in the body, and playing a key role in muscle and skeletal development and function, it isn’t hard to see why this simple mineral can make an impact on a fetus or newborn.
The study authors speculate that magnesium may play a role in brain development and possibly prevent cerebral hemorrhage in preterm infants. Although the precise mechanism for this effect is not known, several suggestions for effectiveness can be cited. An earlier study has shown higher survival rates in infants born weighing less than 1000 grams whose mothers were given magnesium, and in animal models, magnesium has been associated with decreased brain injury after the brain has been deprived of oxygen.
The best method of magnesium absorption is via a transdermal (direct skin) application. Throughout pregnancy, it is recommended to take various prenatal vitamins, but magnesium can sometimes be overlooked. Talk to your doctor about taking magnesium and how much your individual dosage should be.
Hopefully in the future, we will be able to find an absolute cure for Cerebral Palsy, but for now, the preventative measure of Magnesium Supplementation is looking like a positive defense against this debilitating disease.