A New York-based non-profit organisation is promoting campaigns to make magnesium sulphate, or Epsom salts, more accessible because it has been observed to be effective in treating eclampsia—a condition that causes convulsions, coma and death during pregnancy.
The organisation called EngenderHealth presented the first global analysis of eclampsia at the Women Deliver conference in London last week, which showed that four million women suffer from the condition each year, of which 63,000 die.
The data showed that the condition also claimed the lives of about 300,000 infants.
"Its safe, effective, cheap, yet unavailable," New Scientist magazine quoted her as saying.
She says that the scarcity of magnesium sulphate may be because it was so cheap that pharmaceutical companies did not bother making or selling it.
Lack of trained doctors in developing countries, who would know how to infuse the compound properly, might be another reason for the shocking results of the global analysis of eclampsia, she said.