Doctors could Save More Sick Babies by Giving Melatonin



Tuesday, October 12, 2010 by: Kerri Knox, RN, citizen journalist

(NaturalNews) Most of us think of melatonin supplements as simply a sleep aid, but what is not talked about much is the fact that melatonin is actually a quite powerful antioxidant. It is SO powerful and so safe that several studies have been done giving melatonin to extremely ill newborn babies, arguably the most vulnerable population group that you could imagine. In every study, melatonin improved these babies' survival rates while not causing any ill effects. So if melatonin is so safe and it improves survival for the sickest newborn babies, why aren't doctors using it?

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the body naturally in the absence of light and helps trigger our bodies into sleep. While it's best known for being produced in the pineal gland, it is also produced in the digestive tract as well. Even though our bodies do produce melatonin, it's also been used for years as a supplement that can be taken in the evening to help with sleep problems or with jet lag. What is less known is that melatonin is actually an amazingly powerful antioxidant that has been shown in studies to be beneficial for irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, high cholesterol and even cancer. What is even more surprising, however, is that it has been shown in double-blind placebo-controlled trials to be effective at improving infant mortality in the sickest babies imaginable.

Detractors of natural substances claim that there are just not enough studies on the long-term effects of melatonin to say that it is safe enough for people to be taking on a regular basis, but a recent study gave a dose of melatonin 25 TIMES higher than the normal dose used for sleep to almost a thousand women for 3 years with hardly any side effects at all. Formal human studies of that magnitude are not done with substances that are thought to be unsafe, and experimental studies are just simply NOT going to be done on critically ill newborns if doctors are concerned about the safety of the substance being given. In these studies of very sick newborns, melatonin showed that it was certainly safer and more helpful than NOT giving it. In fact in a small study done on critically ill newborns with deadly blood infections, no babies died in the melatonin group while 3 babies died in the 'standard care' group! In two other studies involving newborns requiring life support for lung problems or surgery for heart malformations, the babies treated with melatonin got better sooner than the babies NOT given melatonin.

While these studies showed MAJOR positive outcomes that should have garnered lots of attention by doctors excited to help save sick children, the last of these studies was done in 2005 and no others have been done to follow-up on these positive results. The fact that melatonin has been shown to be safe enough and powerful enough to have critically ill newborns get better faster and even live when others died, says remarkable things about this inexpensive natural supplement. It's too bad that the bias towards pharmaceuticals lets exciting studies like these get almost no attention in the scientific world. As a result, we'll never know if the thousands of babies whose lives are hanging in the balance every year could be helped if doctors were simply giving them a small and safe dose of melatonin.





More News Of Melatonin