Oral tocolysis with magnesium chloride: A randomized controlled prospective clinical trial

Jean M. Ricci, Seemanthini Hariharan, Andrew Helfgott, Karel Reed, Mary Jo O'Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


A prospective randomized clinical trial was conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of enteric-coated magnesium chloride (SLOW MAG) as an oral tocolytic agent. Seventy-five patients between 24 and 34 weeks' gestation who were treated with intravenous magnesium sulfate for a first episode of preterm labor were enrolled. After a 12-hour contraction-free period on intravenous therapy, patients were randomized by sealed envelope to one of three groups: group 1, SLOW MAG (535 mg every 4 hours); group 2, oral ritodrine (20 mg every 4 hours); or group 3, no therapy (control). Patients receiving oral therapy were treated until delivery or completion of 36 weeks' gestation. No difference was found between groups with respect to time gained with the use of oral therapy or number completing 36 weeks' gestation. Therapy with enteric-coated magnesium chloride was associated with significantly fewer side effects (20%) as compared with ritodrine (48%) (p < 0.01). Our results suggest that compared with ritodrine, enteric-coated magnesium chloride is as effective in prolonging pregnancy and preventing recurrent preterm labor. However, neither enteric-coated magnesium chloride nor ritodrine appeared to be any more effective in the prevention of preterm delivery than observation alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-610
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991


  • magnesium chloride
  • oral tocolysis
  • Preterm labor
  • ritodrine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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