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Blue Light Can Slow Down Preterm Labor


Have you heard about light therapy? Several advocates have said that light may have certain health benefits. One of the most promising types of light to be used in therapy is blue light, which is said to be more effective than white light. If you are curious how it comes to be, read on.

Blue Light

All of us are quite accustomed to using bright white light in our homes, in the form of fluorescent white lights which are visible to our eyes. Most white lights emit at a wavelength of 550 nanometers. However, some experts say that this type of light may not be beneficial to us, thought this is the type of light that our eyes are sensitive to. White light is said to be not the best light that can affect our circadian rhythms. Our circadian rhythm serves as a body clock that regulates our sleep, our hormones and our moods. Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation emitted, absorbed and utilized by things in our universe. They come in wide spectrums ranging from short gamma rays to long radio waves. As Isaac Newton have pointed out before, the shorter the wavelength of the color (like red), the more damaging it is.

Advocates say that our eyes have the ability to distinguish between different light colors and that the therapeutic action of light is brought about by the activation of cells in our eyes that then send impulses to the brain. Our eyes also contain special ganglion cells that contain a substance known as melanopsin, which is activated by light. Melanopsin-coated cells are especially activated by light within the wavelength of 446 to 477 nanometers, and blue light belongs to this category. Upon activation, melanopsin coated cells then send signals to the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus, and this action further leads to a decrease in melatonin levels. Once melatonin is decreased, this would make the circadian rhythm shift as if it were daytime. This would make you more alert and awake.

This process is responsible for the health benefits of blue light in illnesses such as seasonal affective disorder, depression and even cancers.

Blue Light And Preterm Labor

Recently there is news that a researcher from Florida State University who has discovered a way of preventing and slowing down preterm labor. How? This is through the use of blue light. The researcher is now developing goggles as light emitting devices that could emit blue light for sleeping pregnant women who are at risk for preterm labor. He theorized that blue light can decrease the levels if melatonin in a pregnant woman. Melatonin is said to be connected to uterine contractions. Thus, administering blue light through goggles in pregnant women can slow down or stop contractions, making it useful in stopping or preventing preterm labor. An alternative is to use blue light in the night stand while pregnant women are asleep.

An earlier study by Olcese has discovered that women often go to labor at night because it is during this time when melatonin levels are at its peak. When pregnant women were exposed to bright light overnight, their melatonin levels dropped and these suppressed their contractions and delayed labor. The researchers want to disseminate this information so that more women with preterm labor would be helped by health professionals and this would also further more studies on ways on how to induce labor through the elevation of melatonin levels.

Preterm birth is birth which occurs before 37 weeks of pregnancy.  It also one of the causes of infant deaths worldwide. It is due to many factors such as multiple pregnancies, infections of the mother, premature rupture of membranes, problems in the uterus or cervix and use of illegal drugs.

For more articles on pregnancy, feel free to read our other articles on this site.