Medical Studies on Melatonin and Pregnancy

Melatonin is essential for embryonic and foetal development because it has different functions for the unborn child, which only receives the mother’s melatonin directly via the placenta. If the mother’s melatonin production is impaired for whatever reason, this can also have an impact on the unborn child.

The placenta as the main supply channel

The placenta plays an extremely important role during pregnancy as it is the main supply channel for the child. If there are complications during the pregnancy, the placenta is usually expected to be involved somehow – sometimes with dramatic consequences for the mother and child, for example pre-eclampsia. A sufficient supply of melatonin from the mother can help here.

Melatonin for pre-eclampsia

Older studies have observed that women with pre-eclampsia exhibited substantially diminished melatonin values compared to healthy women. The placenta of these women also showed a low melatonin level and was therefore exposed to toxins. The anti-oxidative effect of melatonin allows it to protect the placenta from free radicals, which are toxic in cases of pre-eclampsia, and control the blood pressure of the pregnant woman.

Melatonin supports embryonic development

Melatonin is also a key regulator in the foetal development process. It not only helps the unborn child to form their own circadian rhythm, but also has a direct effect on the development of the nervous and endocrine systems, protects the organs responsible for the metabolism of the unborn, and supports the development of the foetal SCN. If there is a melatonin deficiency, this may partly be the reason behind delayed effects such as ADHD.

Medical Studies on Melatonin and Pregnancy

Circadian rhythm and its association with birth and infant outcomes: research protocol of a prospective cohort study.

2020-02 Kaur S, Teoh AN, Shukri NHM, Shafie SR, Bustami NA, Takahashi M, Lim PJ, Shibata S

Circadian rhythm plays an important role as our internal body's clock that synchronizes behavior and physiology according to the external 24-h light-dark cycle. Past studies have associated disrupted circadian rhythm with higher risk of miscarriages, preterm birth and low birth weights. This paper described the protocol of a prospective cohort study which aims to determine the circadian rhythm in pregnant women, identify its association with maternal factors during pregnancy, gestational weight gain, birth and infant outcomes.

Melatonin Promotes Uterine and Placental Health: Potential Molecular Mechanisms.

2019-12 Chuffa LGA, Lupi LA, Cucielo MS, Silveira HS, Reiter RJ, Seiva FRF

The development of the endometrium is a cyclic event tightly regulated by hormones and growth factors to coordinate the menstrual cycle while promoting a suitable microenvironment for embryo implantation during the "receptivity window". Many women experience uterine failures that hamper the success of conception, such as endometrium thickness, endometriosis, luteal phase defects, endometrial polyps, adenomyosis, viral infection, and even endometrial cancer; most of these disturbances involve changes in endocrine components or cell damage.

Reduced melatonin synthesis in pregnant night workers: Metabolic implications for offspring.

2019-11 Nehme PA, Amaral F, Lowden A, Skene DJ, Cipolla-Neto J, Moreno CRC

Several novel animal studies have shown that intrauterine metabolic programming can be modified in the event of reduced melatonin synthesis during pregnancy, leading to glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in the offspring. It is therefore postulated that female night workers when pregnant may expose the offspring to unwanted health threats.

Melatonin for prevention of placental malperfusion and fetal compromise associated with intrauterine inflammation-induced oxidative stress in a mouse model.

2019-10 Lee JY, Li S, Shin NE, Na Q, Dong J, Jia B, Jones-Beatty K, McLane MW, Ozen M, Lei J, Burd I

Melatonin has been shown to reduce oxidative stress and mitigate hypercoagulability. We hypothesized that maternally administered melatonin may reduce placental oxidative stress and hypercoagulability associated with exposure to intrauterine inflammation (IUI) and consequently improve fetoplacental blood flow and fetal sequelae.

Pregnancy Induces an Earlier Chronotype in Both Mice and Women.

2019-06 Martin-Fairey CA, Zhao P, Wan L, Roenneberg T, Fay J, Ma X, McCarthy R, Jungheim ES, England SK, Herzog ED

Daily rhythms generated by endogenous circadian mechanisms and synchronized to the light-dark cycle have been implicated in the timing of birth in a wide variety of species. Although chronodisruption (e.g., shift work or clock gene mutations) is associated with poor reproductive outcomes, little is known about circadian timing during pregnancy.

Melatonin profiles during the third trimester of pregnancy and health status in the offspring among day and night workers: A case series.

2019-04 Nehme PA, Amaral FG, Middleton B, Lowden A, Marqueze E, França-Junior I, Antunes JLF, Cipolla-Neto J, Skene DJ, Moreno CRC

Successful pregnancy requires adaptation in maternal physiology. During intrauterine life the mother's circadian timing system supports successful birth and postnatal development. Maternal melatonin is important to transmit circadian timing and day length to the fetus.

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