More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder

Young Children Increasingly Ingest Melatonin With Serious Outcomes

by Bridget M. Kuehn, MSJ, JAMA. 2022;328(2):123. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.11156
July 25, 2022

Growing melatonin use may have contributed to a 530% increase in annual pediatric melatonin ingestions—from 8337 in 2012 to 52 563 in 2021—reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System, according to a CDC report.


About 1.6%, or 4555, pediatric ingestions over the past decade had serious outcomes. Two children younger than 2 years died at home and 5 required mechanical ventilation. Of 27 795 children who were treated at a health care facility, 4097 required hospitalization and 287 were admitted to intensive care units.

A nearly 40% increase in pediatric melatonin exposures occurred between 2019 and 2020, and in 2021 melatonin was the most frequently reported substance involved in pediatric substance ingestions. The authors attributed this spike to more children and adolescents at home during school closures and stay-at-home orders or greater use of melatonin because of increased sleep disturbance during the pandemic. Adult melatonin use increased well before then, researchers reported this past February in JAMA.

Variable melatonin dosages in over-the-counter (OTC) products may contribute to serious outcomes, the CDC report authors noted. For example, a study of OTC melatonin supplements sold in Ontario, Canada, found that the melatonin content was as much as 478% higher than the label indicated in some products and could fluctuate substantially among lots. Eight of 31 products tested also contained serotonin, a product of melatonin breakdown, at potentially clinically significant doses.

Melatonin supplements are available as tablets, capsules, liquid formulations, and gummies. “Health care providers should advise parents regarding the safe storage and appropriate use of melatonin,” the CDC authors wrote.
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