Doctors have new advice about melatonin for children as overdoses rise

ATLANTA — Doctors are providing new advice to parents considering giving melatonin to children to help them sleep.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine now suggests parents seek medical advice before giving melatonin to children.

The Academy suggests parents treat melatonin like other medications and keep it out of the reach of children and discussing melatonin with a pediatric health care professional. If melatonin is used, the Academy says parents should follow the healthcare professional’s recommendations on the dose and timing.

The executive director of the Georgia Poison Center said it saw a more than 150% increase in melatonin poisonings in children under the age of 13 in the past five years.

In many cases, kids are eating too much of it because they think it’s candy.

Too much melatonin can be harmful for adults and especially for children.

Dr. Gaylord Lopez, the Executive Director of the Georgia Poison Center, called the increase in melatonin calls in children under the age of 13 alarming.

“In 2017, we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 calls. And when you look at 2021 last year, we had over 1,800. That’s two and a half times that’s a 151% increase,” Lopez said.

study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a jump in melatonin poisonings in children across the country — up 530% in the last 10 years. Two children died.

Here in Georgia, there haven’t been any deaths, but some children have ended up in the emergency room.

“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,” said Dr. M. Adeel Rishi, vice chair of the AASM Public Safety Committee and a pulmonology, sleep medicine, and critical care specialist at Indiana University Health Physicians. “Instead of turning to melatonin, parents should work on encouraging their children to develop good sleep habits, like setting a regular bedtime and wake time, having a bedtime routine, and limiting screen time as bedtime approaches.”





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