Magnesium therapy for pre-eclampsia came to Europe years after it was popular in the US, but is now an established routine for preventing convulsions in pre-eclampsia
Although not widely used in the UK and Europe prior to the Collaborative Eclampsia Trial or the Magpie Trial, magnesium sulfate which has been used in eclampsia in the US for several decades, has now become an established mode of treatment for pre-eclampsia in Europe. 
The Magpie Trial, a large international study conducted between 1998 and 2001, with 10,141 women participants at 175 hospitals in 33 countries, showed that magnesium sulphate halves the relative risk of eclampsia, without appearing to have substantive harmful effects on either the mother or the baby in the short term. This landmark study was expected to drastically reduce mortality from pregnancy-related conditions like Preeclampsia [also called Toxaemia or Pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) .
If you are pregnant or are planning to start a family, you must understand preeclampsia, its symptoms and proper management in order to prevent it from turning into eclampsia, a type of pre-eclampsia which is characterized by seizures and convulsions, and requires immediate treatment and hospitalization. Preeclampsia is a potentially dangerous condition that can be fatal for the mother and also the unborn child if it goes undiagnosed and unattended.
Symptoms of Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia usually occurs in the late 2nd or 3rd trimesters or in the middle to late pregnancy. Patient may experience sudden elevated blood pressure and also have excess protein in the urine. Some of the more noticeable symptoms of Preeclampsia are:
- Swelling of the hands and face/eyes (edema)
- Weight gain of over 2 pounds per week or a sudden weight gain over a couple of days
However, since swelling of the feet and ankles, and weight gain are normal during pregnancy, there is a possibility that mild preeclampsia can remain undetected unless the doctor has been very thorough during the prenatal visits and can determine if the symptoms are a one-time occurrence or signs of preeclampsia.
Symptoms of severe preeclampsia are easier to detect and include:
- Dull or throbbing headaches that do not go away
- Abdominal pain, mostly felt on the right side, underneath the ribs.
- Decreased urine output, not urinating very often
- Nausea and vomiting (worrisome sign)
- Vision changes like temporary loss of vision, flashing lights, auras, light sensitivity, spots and blurry vision
Who can develop Preeclampsia?
Some risk factors for preeclampsia include:The exact cause of preeclampsia is not known. Women around or close to 40 have twice the risk of developing pre-eclampsia as compared to younger women. Also, women who have previously suffered toxaemia or have a close female relative who suffered from this condition during pregnancy are more likely to suffer from preeclampsia.
• Obesity: An ideal pre-pregnancy weight is essential to prevent the onset of toxaemia. Women with a BMI above 30 stand the risk of preeclampsia during their pregnancies.
• History of illnesses: Women with past history of diabetes, high blood pressure, or kidney disease tend to develop toxaemia or preeclampsia as well.
• Multiple pregnancies: Women with a multiple pregnancy (carrying twins or more) are also more likely to develop preeclampsia or toxaemia.
Why is Toxaemia/Preeclampsia Dangerous?
If toxaemia or preeclampsia is left undiagnosed and untreated, the continuous increase in blood pressure can lead to complications for both the mother and the baby. Apart from the damaging effect of high blood pressure; preeclampsia can lead to liver and kidney damage or failure. A new study has found that women who experience preeclampsia, a serious complication of pregnancy, may have an increased risk for reduced thyroid functioning later in life. 
If left untreated, preeclampsia can cause the patient to go into convulsions. These convulsions are a sign of eclampsia which is very dangerous. It also can become HELLP Syndrome [hemolysis (H), which is the breaking down of red blood cells, elevated liver enzymes (EL), and low platelet count (LP)], which is potentially fatal to both the woman and her baby or babies.
Preeclampsia requires prompt intervention with an aim to prevent convulsions, control the elevated blood pressure and deliver the foetus.
Why Magnesium Works for Toxaemia Management
Another study published by Altura, Altura, and Carella in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine (2001) stated that magnesium deficiency may lead to spasms of umbilical and placental vasculature. This is the reason why magnesium is used in management of preeclamptic syndromes in pregnant women. Research by Adam, Malatyalioglu, Alvur and Talu also suggests that low cellular magnesium levels in women with preeclampsia may contribute to the development of hypertension in these patients.Many studies have hinted that magnesium deficiency in pregnant women might contribute to toxaemia or preeclampsia of pregnancy. In 1957, DG Hall collated experimental and clinical data to show that magnesium deficiency leads to neuromuscular irritability and convulsions and possibly contribute to toxaemia of pregnancy. He found that plasma magnesium levels were lower among toxemic than among normal pregnant women from the 12th to 25th week.
Magnesium for Stress-free pregnancy
If you are pregnant, or are planning to have a child soon, take plenty of magnesium in your diet (magnesium rich foods listed here). You can safely take a good magnesium supplement like Mag365 Magnesium Supplement and a calcium supplement without any adverse effect to you or your baby.
Another effective alternative is Essence of Life Magnesium Rub or Essence of Life Magnesium Gel. Magnesium Rub is a sea water concentrate, with the sodium removed, and when applied directly to your skin, it absorbs much the same way magnesium sulphate Epsom salt does (transdermal). Apply a little of the Magnesium Rub on your hand and apply directly to the skin.
The extra magnesium that you intake will not only lower your chance of getting preeclampsia, it will also ease much of the discomfort you face during pregnancy.
Read more about role of magnesium and a healthy pregnancy click here.
Disclaimer The information in this article is meant for information purposes only and is not prescriptive. We recommended that you consult with your doctor before you introduce magnesium in your diet, especially if you have a severe kidney or heart disease or are taking hypoglycemic drugs.
- Prevent Recurrent Eclamptic Seizures With Magnesium Sulfate: Prevent Recurrent Seizures With MgSO4 http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/406418_3
- Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine (2001, Vol. 10, No. 4, Pages 246-250) Magnesium deficiency-induced spasms of umbilical vessels: relation to preeclampsia, hypertension, growth retardation BM Altura, BT Altura, and A Carella
- Non-medical prevention of pre-eclampsia: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9225653