The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) urges parents to consult a health care professional before starting their child on melatonin, according to a recent health advisory.
“Although melatonin may be useful in treating certain sleep-wake disorders, such as jet lag, there is much less evidence that it can help children or healthy adults fall asleep more quickly,” said Dr M .Adeel Rishi, Vice President of AASM Public Safety. Committee and specialist in pulmonology, sleep medicine and critical care at Indiana University Health Physicians, in a news release.
“Instead of turning to melatonin, parents should work to encourage their children to develop good sleep habits,” he added.
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These sleep habits include “setting a regular bedtime and wake-up time, having a bedtime routine, and limiting screen time as bedtime approaches.”
Our bodies naturally produce the hormone melatonin to regulate our sleep, according to the health advisory.
It is available as an over-the-counter medicine and is often advertised as a sleep aid, but “there is little evidence that taking it as a supplement is effective for treating insomnia in healthy children,” according to the sleep academy, which has its headquarters. in Darien, Ill.
Melatonin has less oversight because it is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as a “dietary supplement,” and research has found that the melatonin content of supplements is not uniform, according to the news release.
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A 2017 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine examined the melatonin content of approximately 30 supplements. It found that more than 71% of supplements did not live up to their label claims.
The study found the most significant variability in melatonin content in chewable tablets, which is the form most likely to be used in children.
“One of the most surprising facts I share with my patients is that over-the-counter melatonin is not tightly regulated.”
This study “found that the actual content of these supplements was very inaccurate,” said Dr. Baljinder S. Sidhu, a pulmonologist and sleep specialist who co-owns Pacific Coast Critical Care Group in Southern California.
“While this may not be a big problem for adults, this could have a significant impact on young children,” he said.
Advise the use of melatonin with caution.
“One of the most surprising facts I share with my patients is that over-the-counter melatonin is not tightly regulated,” Sidhu added.
Pediatric melatonin ingestions reported annually to US poison control centers increased by 530% from 2012 to 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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“The availability of melatonin as gummies or chewable tablets makes it more tempting to give to children and more prone to overdose,” Rishi added in the press release.
“Behavioral interventions other than medication are often successful in addressing insomnia in children,” he added.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine shares the following important tips.
1. Melatonin should be kept out of the reach of children.
2. Parents should discuss the issue with a healthcare professional before starting the medication.
3. Parents should know that “many sleep problems can be better managed by changing schedules, habits, or behaviors rather than taking melatonin.”
If parents are going to give melatonin to their child, the sleep academy recommends verifying that the product has the USP’s verified mark for safety reasons.
“Melatonin is never a first-line treatment in children,” Sidhu told Fox News Digital.
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“Insomnia is not uncommon in children as it develops after the age of 2,” he added.
“This resistance to bedtime can be difficult to manage and even has a diagnosis we call ‘borderline insomnia’, which can generally be managed with bedtime routines.”
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Remind people that while melatonin can be used for certain sleep disorders, such as ADHD and other chronic health conditions that affect sleep and autism, it should always be recommended and managed by a doctor first