Efficacy of oral magnesium therapy in the treatment of chronic constipation in spastic cerebral palsy children: a randomized controlled trial



Constipation is a common problem in children with spastic cerebral palsy (sCP) with a prevalence that reaches 75%. We hypothesized that treating constipation in those children will improve their health and shorten time spent in daily care. Our aim was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of oral magnesium sulfate for treating chronic constipation in children with sCP.


A prospective, double-blinded randomized control trial was carried out involving 100 children aged 2–12 years with sCP (level III–V of the Gross Motor Functional Classification system) and chronic constipation. They were followed up in the Pediatric neurology clinic, Children’s hospital, Ain Shams University, May 2017- January 2019. The intervention group (O–Mg) received oral magnesium sulfate 1 mL/kg/day daily for 1 month compared to the placebo. Outcome measures were constipation improvement and decrease in bowel evacuation time after 1 month.


Initially, weekly bowel movements, constipation scores and stool consistency were comparable in both groups. After 1 month of regular administration of oral magnesium sulfate, the constipation score, stool frequency and consistency improved compared to the placebo group (P < 0.001). Effective safe treatment was achieved in 31 (68%) and 4 (9.5%) patients in the O–Mg and placebo groups, respectively (RR, 2.95; 95% CI 2.0–4.5) (P < 0.001). Painful bowel evacuation attempts spent by mothers decreased from 25 (55.6%) of the cases initially to 10 (22%) cases after one month in the O–Mg group (P = 0.001). In contrast, in the placebo group, the decrease went from 21 (50%) cases initially to 18 (42.9%) after 1 month and was not significant (P = 0.5).


Oral magnesium sulfate seems effective in alleviating chronic constipation and pain experience in children with sCP. Consequently, saving maternal time spent in daily bowel evacuation attempts.

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The authors are grateful to the clinical pharmacology team who performed the blinding and prepared the oral solution.


The authors received no financial support.

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All the authors have finally reviewed the manuscript and agreed to its being submitted for publication. All individuals listed as authors meet the appropriate authorship criteria; nobody who qualifies for authorship has been omitted from the list. SMAH: research idea, patient follow-up, data collection, and writing the manuscript; SMD: clinical follow-up, data collection and writing; HB: data collection, and statistical analysis.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sahar M. A. Hassanein.

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Ethical approval

The study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University (IRB: FMASU MS 5/2015), Furthermore, it was registered in Clinical Trial of the National Institutes of Health with ClinicalTrials.gov identifier number: NCT02510222.

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The authors declare no financial or nonfinancial benefits have been received or will be received from any party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.

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Hassanein, S.M.A., Deifallah, S.M. & Bastawy, H.A. Efficacy of oral magnesium therapy in the treatment of chronic constipation in spastic cerebral palsy children: a randomized controlled trial. World J Pediatr 17, 92–98 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12519-020-00401-0

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  • Bristol stool consistency scale
  • Constipation scale
  • Gross Motor Functional Classification system
  • Magnesium sulfate
  • Painful bowel evacuation
  • Spasticity