• Open Access

The Magpie Trial: a randomised trial comparing magnesium sulphate with placebo for pre-eclampsia. Outcome for women at 2 years


  • Magpie Trial Follow-Up Study Collaborative Group

  • Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Creative Commons Deed, Attribution 2.5, which does not permit commercial exploitation.

Dr L Duley, Magpie Trial Office, Nuffield Department of Medicine, Level 5, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK. Email lelia.duley@ndm.ox.ac.uk


Objective  The aim of this study was to assess long-term effects for women following the use of magnesium sulphate for pre-eclampsia.

Design  Assessment at 2–3 years after delivery for women recruited to the Magpie Trial (recruitment in 1998–2001, ISRCTN 86938761), which compared magnesium sulphate with placebo for pre-eclampsia.

Setting  Follow up after discharge from hospital at 125 centres in 19 countries across five continents.

Population  A total of 7927 women were randomised at the follow-up centres. Of these women, 2544 were not included for logistic reasons and 601 excluded (109 at a centre where <20% of women were contacted, 466 discharged without a surviving child and 26 opted out). Therefore, 4782 women were selected for follow-up, of whom 3375 (71%) were traced.

Methods  Questionnaire assessment was administered largely by post or in a dedicated clinic. Interview assessment of selected women was performed.

Main outcome measures  Death or serious morbidity potentially related to pre-eclampsia at follow up, other morbidity and use of health service resources.

Results  Median time from delivery to follow up was 26 months (interquartile range 19–36). Fifty-eight of 1650 (3.5%) women allocated magnesium sulphate died or had serious morbidity potentially related to pre-eclampsia compared with 72 of 1725 (4.2%) women allocated placebo (relative risk 0.84, 95% CI 0.60–1.18).

Conclusions  The reduction in the risk of eclampsia following prophylaxis with magnesium sulphate was not associated with an excess of death or disability for the women after 2 years.