Sleep problems are common in children and adolescents and increased during the pandemic (Sharma, et. al., 2021). So to, did use of melatonin as a sleep aid. While melatonin is considered a relatively safe short-term option for treating sleep disturbances, recent reports highlight potential concerns about use of melatonin in the pediatric population.
A report by the CDC in June 2022 found a significant increase in reported pediatric melatonin ingestions reported to poison control over the preceding decade; a 530% increase between 2012 and 2021, with the largest increase corresponding with the onset of the pandemic (Lelak, et. al., 2022). While most children in these reported ingestions were asymptomatic, serious outcomes did occur, particularly amongst children under the age of 5. More recently, a report in June 2023 found significant variability in the amount of melatonin contained in over-the-counter products; with the actual quantity of melatonin ranging from 74% to 347% of the labeled quantity (Cohen, et. al., 2023).
It should be noted that melatonin is classified as a dietary supplement, meaning that it is not regulated by the FDA the way that over-the-counter medications are. As a result, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued a health advisory about the use of melatonin in children and adolescents, which recommends that:
1. Melatonin be kept out of reach of children (as other medications are).
2. Parents discuss the decision to start melatonin (or other supplements) with a pediatric health care professional.
3. Parents should select a product with the USP verified mark, indicating that the product was produced in a facility following Good Manufacturing Practice standards.
As always, BHIPP is here to support you in addressing these concerns, the warmline remains open from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday at 855-MD-BHIPP (632-4477).