Preventing cerebral palsy in preterm babies

PReCePT (PReventing Cerebral palsy in Pre-Term labour) is an evidence-based project designed to reduce the risk of cerebral palsy in babies by giving magnesium sulphate to mothers in preterm labour.

Babies born pre-term are at an increased risk of developing cerebral palsy, a group of lifelong conditions affecting movement caused by a problem with the brain that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth. Magnesium sulphate, a known neuroprotector, can reduce the likelihood of a child developing cerebral palsy if it is administered to the mother during pre-term labour.

The PReCePT project was developed by the West of England Academic Health Science Network in collaboration with University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. Funded by NHS England, the programme was subsequently selected for adoption and spread across England during 2018-20 via the national AHSN Network.

Highlights from the PReCePT programme data 2020/21 for England are:

  • Number of eligible mothers in 20/21: 3,185 – an increase of 71 compared to previous reporting
  • Number of mothers given MgSO4 in 20/21: 2,756 - an increase of 87 compared to previous reporting
  • % uptake of MgSO4 in 20/21: 86.5% - an increase of 0.82 percentage points compared to previous reporting
  • Number of additional mothers receiving MgSO4 in 20/21: 691 – an increase of 43 compared to previous reporting

Find out more about the national spread of PReCePT on the AHSN Network website.

PReCePT in the South West

The formal PReCePT programme is now complete and the South West AHSN continues to support trusts across the South West to maintain uptake of the administration of magnesium sulphate to eligible mothers in the region. Throughout 2020/21, 87.3% of eligible mothers in the South West received magnesium sulphate which is above the national target.

The PReCePT programme has positively impacted children across the South West, building healthier and happier futures for families. Watch Violet's story below.

The programme also has positive implications for the adoption and spread of innovation. Healthcare staff adopting PReCePT have reported the programme has led to changes in the way they go about collaborating with colleagues, developing new confidence in building connections, and sharing ideas and experience. The programme has strengthened quality improvement knowledge across maternity and neonatal units in the South West.

The success of the PReCePT programme has led to the development of a new perinatal initiative, PERIPrem, being trialled by the South West and West of England AHSNs in the South West of England.