Melatonin is a hormone that our bodies produce to help regulate our sleep. However, many people purchase this over-the-counter supplement when their sleep patterns become disrupted. Over the past decade, unintentional poisonings from melatonin have increased by an astonishing 530 percent in children. (No, that is not a typo.)

The most terrifying part? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that over 80 percent of these children exhibited no symptoms whatsoever. This makes these incidents extremely hard to detect until it is too late. Most notably, their report indicated that "pediatric hospitalizations and more serious outcomes also increased" due to the consumption of this hormone by kids ages 5 years and younger.

Why Is This Occurring?

Unfortunately, many parents go on social media to seek guidance when their children have an issue. Sleep schedules and sleep regressions are a hot topic among parents. While you can find helpful advice online, it's imperative that you always speak with your child's doctor before administering any type of medication. Never take medical advice from people on the internet.

Sleeping Kids
Photo by Minnie Zhou on Unsplash

Dr. Karen Talusan-Soriano with Covenant Medical Group notes that "the problem with melatonin is that there is no exact dosing because there is no FDA regulation of this product." Thus, without a recommendation and proper guidance from your child's pediatrician, it's very easy to cause an accidental overdose. This can result in detrimental effects on a child's cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems.

Additionally, she went on to state that "it should be used as a last resort and on a temporary basis." This is not a supplement that anyone should be taking regularly, including adults. In fact, the Mayo Clinic notes that it's only considered safe when taken for one to two months. They also dictate that it can have extreme side effects and it can interact with an array of common medications.

Besides incorrect dosing, the other issue is that many children have easy access to these seemly safe pills. Most people keep this natural sleep aid in their nightstands. It's crucial that parents keep pills and supplements out of reach and locked away so that young children can't get access to them.

We all want our kids to sleep and regressions can be quite a headache, but sometimes it's better to let these developmental periods run their course instead of always heading to the medicine cabinet for a quick fix.

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