Warning on Melatonin: Experts Flag Concerns as Usage Jumps to 20% in School-Aged Children

Rising Trend: Melatonin Usage Among School-Aged Kids Reaches 20%

The use of melatonin, a hormonal sleep aid, has surged among school-aged children, with nearly 20% of five- to 13-year-olds taking the supplement.

This marks a significant increase from just one percent reported six years ago. Concerns arise among experts as the lack of research into the long-term effects of melatonin on children becomes apparent.

Research Findings: Age-Related Increase in Melatonin Consumption

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder delved into data from 993 children aged one to 13 and discovered a notable increase in melatonin use with age.

Overall, approximately 39% of children included in the study had consumed melatonin in the previous 30 days. The highest prevalence was among 10- to 13-year-olds, with 19.4% reported usage, followed by five- to nine-year-olds at 18.5%.

Call for Awareness: Urgent Need for Further Research

Lead author Dr. Lauren Hartstein from the Sleep and Development Lab at CU Boulder emphasizes the need for awareness and calls on the scientific community to address the escalating use of melatonin among children.

While not asserting harm, Dr. Hartstein underscores the necessity for comprehensive research before confidently deeming melatonin safe for long-term use in children.

Concerns and Safety Issues: Lack of Oversight and Inconsistent Studies

The increasing popularity of melatonin supplements, available over the counter in the US, raises concerns about underlying sleep issues in children.

While melatonin is generally considered safe for short-term use, scientists express apprehensions about potential interference with development and puberty onset in growing children.

Moreover, the lack of FDA regulation on melatonin supplements raises safety concerns, as the actual melatonin content can vary significantly.

Safety Risks and Unintentional Ingestion: Gummy Form Poses Threat

The availability of melatonin supplements in child-friendly gummy forms poses additional risks, with children potentially ingesting unsafe levels accidentally.

Reports indicate a 530% increase in melatonin ingestion to poison control centers from 2012 to 2021, particularly in children under five. Experts stress the importance of caution, recommending melatonin use under the supervision of a doctor and exploring behavioral changes before resorting to supplements.