Study Finds Increase in Melatonin Overdoses in Children
Melatonin poisoning is on the rise, seeing a dramatic increase in 2021.
Last year, poison control centers in the United States received more than 52,000 calls about children ingesting too melatonin, a sleep aid supplement.
Most calls were concerning unintentional exposure in younger children; many got into bottles of melatonin, which can come in gummy form for children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study summating these pediatric melatonin overdoses, which have increased 530% in the last decade. In 83% of some 260,000 calls between 2012 and 2021, children did not show any symptoms.
Most people can tolerate large doses of melatonin without significant harm, and experts often suggest an adult monitor a child at home who has accidentally too much. Delayed breathing or any other worrisome signs can mean the child needs to go to the hospital.
Experts suggest children less than 88 pounds take one three-milligram dose of melatonin, while children more than 88 pounds can have five milligrams.
The lead author of the CDC study, emergency physician Dr. Karima Lelak, said parents should be cautious about leaving melatonin out around children. Some may think it’s something like a vitamin.
“But really it’s a medication that has the potential to cause harm and should be put way in the medicine cabinet,” Lelak said in an ABC report.
From the 10 years researchers studied, more than 4,000 kids were hospitalized due to melatonin overdoses, five required breathing assistance and two, both younger than 2, died.
Reported melatonin poisonings shot up 38% between 2019 and 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The pandemic also caused families increased stress and anxiety, which may have caused more people to consider melatonin.