United States: The usage of Melatonin for sleep has become common among children and tweens – which has been potentially harming their development, according to a new study.
According to new research conducted last month and published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, one of the five school-aged kids is consuming melatonin to have rest. The researchers have outlined that such supplements are not heavily regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration.
It was also highlighted that the safety and effectiveness data for it is slim. One of the study lead authors, Lauren Hartstein – who is a postdoctoral fellow in the Sleep and Development Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder, was quoted saying, “We hope this paper raises awareness for parents and clinicians and sounds the alarm for the scientific community.”
In a university news release, Hartstein said, “We are not saying that melatonin is necessarily harmful to children, But much more research needs to be done before we can state with confidence that it is safe for kids to be taking long-term.”
How does Melatonin work?
According to research, Melatonin is naturally produced by the human pineal gland, which signals the body to sleep.
It is to be noted that many countries have classified Melatonin as a drug available by prescription only. However, in the US, the drug can be found over the counter as a dietary supplement.
What research has to underline?
- Around 19% of children (aged between 5 and 9) have taken the drug in the previous 30 days,
- Over 19% of tweens (aged between 10 and 13) have taken Melatonin,
- In the previous months, nearly 6% of preschoolers (aged between 1 and 4) had used Melatonin.
According to the research, the dose increases with the increasing age. A preschooler takes a dose of between 0.25 milligrams to 2 milligrams, and preteens take a dose of up to 10 milligrams.
What is the major problem?
According to the researchers, the gummies of Melatonin contain varying amounts of the hormone. Additionally, other substances, such as serotonin, can be found in some melatonin supplements. “Parents may not actually know what they are giving to their children when administering these supplements,” Hartstein said, as per the reports by HealthDay News.
Melatonin gummies look and taste like candies – which increases the risk of overdosing among children, according to researchers. The authors have also raised concern about the increased melatonin ingestion at poison control centers. Accordingly, a surge of 530% was witnessed from 2012 to 2021 – mostly among children under the age of five years.
The reports further outlined that more than 94% were unintentional overdoses and luckily, 85% were asymptomatic.
“If this many kids are taking Melatonin, that suggests there are a lot of underlying sleep issues out there that need to be addressed. Addressing the symptom doesn’t necessarily address the cause,” the researcher claimed.
The researchers also noted that the drug also sends a message that “If you’re having trouble sleeping, a pill is the answer.”