New studies suggest that melatonin addiction in children has increased dramatically over the last decade.
Between 2012 and 2021, a study found that the US Poison Control Center had a 530% increase in phone calls for children who took high doses of sleep supplements.
Over 260,000 Melatonin Ingestion was reported, of which more than 27,000 children needed medical care. This includes more than 4,000 hospitalized children and nearly 290 children treated in the ICU. Five of the affected children wore ventilators to support breathing, and two children under the age of two died.
Hospitalization and other serious consequences of melatonin intake in children have increased since 2012, primarily due to an increase in 5 children and accidental drug intake. Researchers reported these findings in a new study published Thursday (June 2) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Weekly morbidity and mortality reports (Opens in a new tab)..
“Public health initiatives should focus on raising awareness of increased melatonin intake among children and developing preventative measures to eliminate this risk,” the study authors write.
Related: Does Melatonin Work?
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the glands. brain This helps to regulate the body’s 24-hour circadian rhythm and sleep and wake cycle, Live Science previously reported. In the United States, synthetic melatonin is marketed as a sleep aid for both adults and children.
Because they are classified as “dietary supplements” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), melatonin products are less regulated than prescription drugs. This means that the concentration of melatonin in the product may not match the concentration stated on the bottle because the FDA has not confirmed the accuracy of the label. 2017 survey Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (Opens in a new tab) At least in Canada, the levels of melatonin in supplements often differ significantly from those listed, and Canada later discovered that OTC melatonin was later banned due to these quality control issues. However, similar quality control studies have not been conducted in the United States, the authors of MMWR said.
The authors write that this lack of quality control, along with the growing popularity of supplements, can increase the risk of children taking large amounts of melatonin. In addition, the same 2017 study found that some melatonin supplements contained clinically significant amounts of serotonin. Serotonin acts as a chemical messenger in the brain and can cause dangerous side effects when taken at high doses. Mayo Clinic (Opens in a new tab)..
In a new study, the author reviews calls made to the U.S. Poison Control Center between 2012 and 2021 and counts the number of “melatonin intakes” reported in children, adolescents, and young adults under the age of 19. I did. Reported intakes increased from approximately 8,300 in 2012 to 52,500 in 2021. The largest year-on-year increase occurred between 2019 and 2020, with reporting rates soaring by approximately 38%.
“Unintentional intake was a major factor in this increase,” the researchers wrote in the study. “This may be related to the increased accessibility of melatonin during a pandemic, as children spend more time at home due to stay-at-home orders and school closures.”
Increasing sleep problems during a pandemic may also have driven people to retain more melatonin in their homes.
Most of the reported intakes were “unintentional” and involved a child of a man under the age of five. Most cases were asymptomatic and managed at home, but the minority had serious consequences such as high fever, respiratory failure requiring intubation and seizures. Some of them were resolved immediately and others progressed to “status epilepticus”. The authors report that it can lead to permanent brain damage or death.
In general, there are few formal studies of the potential side effects of children using melatonin as a sleep aid. Boston Children’s Hospital (Opens in a new tab).. However, the recommended doses of supplements appear to cause little or no short-term side effects, and if side effects occur, they tend to be mild. Common side effects include headaches, increased bedwetting, nightmares, dizziness, and drowsiness in the morning.
However, because melatonin is a hormone, there are concerns that long-term use may have some effect on adolescent-related hormones in children. According to Boston Children’s, such effects have been noted in several animal studies.
Originally published on Live Science.