Melatonin poisoning in children on the rise: Study

IThe market is flooded with over-the-counter sleep aids, melatonin is one of the most popular. A naturally occurring hormone, it governs the sleep-wake cycle and is sold as a dietary supplement to help combat insomnia, airplane sick and other conditions. According to the market research group, sales of melatonin are growing rapidly in the US, from $285 million in 2016 to $820 million in 2020. Statista.

But the popularity of melatonin puts children at risk, finds a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (MMWR) Mortality and Mortality Weekly Report. Melatonin poisoning in people 19 years of age and younger increased by a staggering 530% between January 2012 and December 2021, with the biggest jumps occurring in 2020 and 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic- 19.

The research, led by Dr. Karima Lelak, a pediatrician at Michigan Children’s Hospital, builds on reports done over the past decade to the National Toxicology Data System of the American Association for Poisons Control. Ky. During that time, investigators found, 260,435 cases of melatonin poisoning in children were reported; in 2012, there were 8,337 such incidents, representing 0.6% of the total reports. By 2021, this has spiked to 52,563, representing 4.9% of the total – making melatonin the most frequently ingested substance reported to the system.

Nearly 84% of those incidents occurred in children 5 years of age or younger, and more than 94% of all cases were considered incidental, self-medicating and self-medicating. That kind of accidental poisoning is especially likely with melatonin because this product is sold in tablet, capsule and liquid form, it’s also sold as a sweetened gum – which makes it special. attractive to children.

American Academy of Pediatrics not excluded Give children small doses of melatonin to help them sleep, but encourage parents to discuss this with their pediatrician first. However, melatonin overdose is another matter, leading to nausea, headaches, diarrhea, irritability, and joint pain. In severe cases, it can affect the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. Nearly 4,100 reported hospitalizations, and nearly 300 of them were in intensive care. In five of the cases, children had to be put on a breathing mask; In two cases, the children died.

The pandemic has been an obvious driver of the problem. The thing is, kids spending more time at home – especially in 2020 – gives them a greater chance to get in touch with and absorb melatonin. Adults also report more sleep disturbance during lockdown, increased sales of melatonin. “The increase in accessibility and readiness associated with this pandemic may have contributed to increased exposure among children,” the researchers wrote.

The majority of hospitalized patients were adolescents who had intentionally ingested melatonin. Whether they accidentally overdose or are trying to poison themselves — a The worrying trend is also increasing—Discovered in the MMWR study.

Supplements that include melatonin are largely unregulated, and the lack of quality control and dosage regulation in products is exacerbating the problem of melatonin toxicity. MMWR researchers cite another study where the amount of melatonin contained in each dose deviated by up to 10% from what was claimed on the label in nearly three-quarters of the bottles or packages studied. In one case, melatonin levels varied by as much as 465% between different batches of the same product. “The greatest variation was found in the chewable formulation, which is more likely to be used by children,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers of the new study argue that melatonin should be sold with child-resistant packaging and that doctors should be more careful in warning patients about possible side effects before recommending supplements. . “Public health initiatives should focus on raising awareness about increased melatonin intake in children, and on preventive measures to eliminate this risk,” the researchers wrote. “.

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