Premature birth increases a child's risk of cerebral palsy and death. The aim of this work is to investigate the association between treatment with magnesium sulphate during premature deliveries and infants' cerebral palsy and mortality through a meta-analysis of observational studies. A comprehensive search of the Cochrane Library, EMBASE and the PubMed database from their inceptions to 1 October, 2010 using the keywords 'magnesium sulphate, children/infant/pre-term/premature and cerebral palsy/mortality/morbidity/adverse effects/outcome' identified 11 reports of observational studies. Two authors working independently extracted the data. A meta-analysis of the data found an association between magnesium sulphate treatment and a significantly reduced risk of mortality (RR 0.73; 95% CI 0.61-0.89) and cerebral palsy (OR 0.64; 95% CI 0.47-0.89). Antenatal treatment with magnesium sulphate during premature deliveries seems to be associated with health benefits for the infants. The effective dose and timing, however, is not defined and given the lack of mechanistic understanding of the effect of MgSO(4), a reasonable alternative is a large-scale pragmatic clinical trial.