BACKGROUND: Melatonin is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic effects. Animal studies have supported a fetal neuroprotective role for melatonin when administered maternally. It is important to assess whether melatonin, given to the mother, can reduce the risk of neurosensory disabilities (including cerebral palsy) and death, associated with fetal brain injury, for the preterm or term compromised fetus.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of melatonin when used for neuroprotection of the fetus.
SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (31 January 2016).
SELECTION CRITERIA: We planned to include randomised controlled trials and quasi-randomised controlled trials comparing melatonin given to women in pregnancy (regardless of the route, timing, dose and duration of administration) for fetal neuroprotection with placebo, no treatment, or with an alternative agent aimed at providing fetal neuroprotection. We also planned to include comparisons of different regimens for administration of melatonin.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors planned to independently assess trial eligibility, trial quality and extract the data.
MAIN RESULTS: We found no randomised trials for inclusion in this review. One study is ongoing.
AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: As we did not identify any randomised trials for inclusion in this review, we are unable to comment on implications for practice at this stage.Although evidence from animals studies has supported a fetal neuroprotective role for melatonin when administered to the mother during pregnancy, no trials assessing melatonin for fetal neuroprotection in pregnant women have been completed to date. However, there is currently one ongoing randomised controlled trial (with an estimated enrolment target of 60 pregnant women) which examines the dose of melatonin, administered to women at risk of imminent very preterm birth (less than 28 weeks' gestation) required to reduce brain damage in the white matter of the babies that were born very preterm.Further high-quality research is needed and research efforts should directed towards trials comparing melatonin with either no intervention (no treatment or placebo), or with alternative agents aimed at providing fetal neuroprotection (such as magnesium sulphate for the very preterm infant). Such trials should evaluate maternal and infant short- and longer-term outcomes (including neurosensory disabilities such as cerebral palsy), and consider the costs of care.
- Fetus/drug effects
- Melatonin/administration & dosage
- Neuroprotective Agents/administration & dosage