Novel Methods to Regulate Uterine Contractions
The present invention describes a novel method of regulating uterine contractions in pregnant female using light. The method of regulating uterine contractions comprises suppressing a nocturnal endogenous melatonin level of a pregnant female experiencing uterine contractions by exposing the pregnant female during nighttime to a light source emitting visible light. Directing light from a light source positioned about 1 meter from the eyes, emitting predominantly blue light onto the pregnant females eyes between 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., with an intensity of about 10,000 lux of the visible light is sufficient to suppress the pregnant female's endogenous melatonin level.
The results reveal that regular nocturnal contractions are suppressed by bright light exposure under these conditions. This finding supports the proposition that melatonin is a key zeitgeber, regulating the onset of human labor and parturition and that light can be used to regulate melatonin levels and, thereby, regulate uterine contractions. Optionally, the light source is adapted to emit light in discrete on/off cycles or pulses. The duration of the pulses and the separation between successive pulses is adjusted to obtain the desired amount of endogenous melatonin suppression.
This invention will open new avenues for the management of term and preterm labor.