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Caution against misuse of melatonin in children

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조회 766회 작성일 22-09-21

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Melatonin is a natural hormone that helps us regulate our own sleep timing. Even though our body makes its melatonin in the brain, some people use extra melatonin to improve their sleep. Melatonin can improve sleep in children whose body clocks are “off schedule” and in some children with developmental problems. 

Melatonin use has increased in the last two decades across all ages. Melatonin is the second-most popular “natural” product that parents give to their children, next to multivitamins. With this increased use, there are growing reports of melatonin overdose, calls to poison control centers, and emergency room visits for children, even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parents should talk to a health care professional before giving melatonin or any supplement to children. Be aware that in the U.S., melatonin is considered a “dietary supplement.” Melatonin is not under FDA oversight like other over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications. Melatonin content in supplements can vary widely. In one study, melatonin ranged from less than one-half to more than four times the amount stated on the label. The most significant variability in melatonin content was in chewable tablets – the form children are most likely to use. Some products even contained other chemicals that need medical prescriptions.

Reference: Health Advisory: Melatonin Use in Children and Adolescents. Pediatric Melatonin Ingestions — United States, 2012–2021. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Weekly / June 3, 2022 / 71(22);725–729