Melatonin patches in babies with asphyxia could save lives

A clinical trial will get under way during the next year at hospitals and birthing centres in India, which has a rate of asphyxia in newborns that far exceeds the Australian average of some 1500 per year. An Australian trial is about 12 months away, the researchers told MO.

“About 25% of Australian babies with asphyxia develop some sort of disorder, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy and developmental delays, but the problem in India is a mammoth one,” said Monash PhD student James Aridas, who is working on the project with colleagues at MIMR-PHI Institute’s Ritchie Centre.

“We are hoping we can reduce the incidence and the severity of those problems.”

The trial in Uttar Pradesh will use specially developed patches with 30–60mg of melatonin applied to oxygen-deficient babies within 30 minutes of birth. The Australian trial will use melatonin in combination with standard cooling therapy for asphyxia cases.