BMJ 2015; 351
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced a new guideline to try to reduce premature birth rates in England and Wales, which have shown no decline over the past 10 years.
More than 52 000 babies—around 7.3% of live births in England and Wales—were born preterm in 2012. Premature birth is the second most common cause of death in children under 5, and babies who are born early are more prone to health problems such as heart defects, lung disorders, cerebral palsy, and delayed development.
The guideline says that intravenous magnesium sulphate should be given to women at risk of preterm birth to reduce the risk of neurological disorders. It should be offered to women at 24 to 29 weeks of pregnancy and considered for women at 30 to 33 weeks who are in established preterm labour or are having a planned preterm birth within 24 hours.