Melatonin Popularity Is Linked With Poisoning Increase

( )- The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has urged parents to speak with a doctor or health care provider before giving their children the over-the-counter sleep aid, melatonin.

In a recent health advisory, AASM Public Safety Committee vice-chair Dr. M. Adeel Rishi warned that while melatonin can be useful in treating some sleep disorders like jet lag, there isn’t much evidence that it can help healthy children or adults to fall asleep more quickly.

Dr. Rishi suggested parents avoid giving melatonin to their children and instead encourage them to “develop good sleep habits,” like setting up a consistent bedtime and waketime and reducing a child’s screen time before bed.

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the body to regulate sleep. It is easily available as an over-the-counter supplement that is advertised as a sleep aid. However, according to the AASM, there is little evidence taking Melatonin as a supplement effectively treats insomnia in healthy children.

Melatonin is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as a “dietary supplement,” and as such has far less oversight than over-the-counter drugs.

Research shows that the melatonin content in supplements is not uniform.

In a 2017 study, researchers examined the melatonin content in 30 supplements and found that over 75 percent of them did not conform with the claims on the label. The study also found that the most significant variability in melatonin content was found in the chewable tablets, the form most often given to children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pediatric melatonin ingestions reported annually to poison control centers increased by 530 percent from 2012 to 2021. Dr. Rishi said the increase was likely due to the widespread availability of melatonin gummies or other kinds of chewable tablets which are more tempting for parents to use as a sleep aid for children, therefore increasing the likelihood of overdose.