Melatonin for Kids? Not So Fast

New health advisory: Talk to a doctor before giving melatonin to a child

(RxWiki News) Thinking about giving melatonin to your child? Read this first.

Health officials recently issued an advisory that said, in short, the following: Talk to your child's healthcare provider before giving them melatonin.

To be fair, the new warning from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) also applied to supplements of any kind. But it called out melatonin specifically.

Why this new warning? Dr. Muhammad Adeel Rishi, vice chair of the AASM's Public Safety Committee, weighed in.

"While melatonin can be useful in treating certain sleep-wake disorders, like jet lag, there is much less evidence it can help healthy children or adults fall asleep faster," he said in a press release.

In recent years, melatonin appears to have become more popular. But with the rise in popularity has come a rise in calls to poison control about potential melatonin overdoses.

In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that unintentional melatonin ingestion by children increased by 530 percent between 2012 and 2021.

Of those reported ingestions, 287 put a child in intensive care. And 4,000 resulted in a stay at the hospital. 

The other potential problem with melatonin is due to its over-the-counter (OTC) availability. OTC drugs and supplements undergo less review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) than prescription drugs.

Less oversight might mean differences in quality between melatonin supplements. For example, the AASM called out research that showed that the actual amount of melatonin in supplements can vary widely. That was despite what the supplements' labels said.

In some cases, melatonin content was as high as four times the amount written on the supplement label.

This new warning from the AASM wasn't a strict "no" to melatonin use in children. It was simply a recommendation that parents speak with their children's healthcare providers before allowing them to take melatonin.

Regardless of whether you allow your child to take melatonin, keep it out of reach of children at all times.

If you are concerned about your child's sleep, talk to their healthcare provider about the available treatments and strategies.

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Review Date: 
October 3, 2022