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Grateful Mom Feels Clinical Study May Have Helped Her Deliver a Healthy Baby Girl

Nov 26, 2008 10:00 AM

Chris Miller was thrilled, and a little surprised, to learn four years ago that she and her husband were expecting a new baby. At the time, Miller was 38 with four young children still at home. Their initial excitement, however, turned to panic when labor began more than two months early.

The experience, Miller says, was extremely stressful. But as she waited in the hospital for her daughter’s early arrival, hope came in the form of a nurse who asked if she’d like to participate in a University of Utah clinical study. The study, led by Michael W. Varner, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology, was evaluating whether a dose of magnesium sulfate administered during labor could reduce the risk of cerebral palsy in preterm infants.

“I didn’t realize we were even at risk for cerebral palsy,” says Miller, “but I was glad then and I’m glad now that I was able to participate in the study.”

The study’s conclusive data later suggested magnesium sulfate can reduce the risk of preterm infants developing childhood cerebral palsy, a debilitating nervous system disorder.

Because of the study’s methodology, Miller doesn’t know whether or not she received the magnesium sulfate. But she feels that participating in the study may have helped her deliver a healthy baby girl. “Participating in the study was never really a question for me. It didn’t matter whether I had the magnesium sulfate or not; the study needed to be done,” says Miller, who’s happy that the research findings may benefit other families in the future.

Today, Chris and 4-year-old Sandy are a happy, healthy mother-daughter duo. Though at times a bit stubborn, Sandy mostly enjoys singing, dancing, and anything that puts her in the spotlight.

Varner says the study’s findings may support the notion to treat all preterm babies at risk for cerebral palsy with magnesium sulfate. “As a researcher, I’m not charged with determining clinical procedures, but I think this data can potentially pave the way for change in standard medical practice,” says Varner. “Only time will tell.”

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