Title: Concerns Rise as Study Shows 20% of School-Aged Children Take Powerful Sleeping Supplements
In a recent study, it has been discovered that nearly 20 percent of school-aged children are regularly consuming powerful sleeping supplements. The alarming research, which analyzed data from 993 children aged one to 13, found that the use of melatonin significantly increased with age.
The study revealed that the highest prevalence of melatonin use was observed among 10- to 13-year-olds, with 19.4 percent of parents reporting that their child had taken the sleep aid in the previous 30 days. Following closely behind were children aged five to nine, with 18.5 percent of parents reporting melatonin consumption.
Experts are growing concerned about the lack of research into the long-term effects of melatonin on children’s health. While melatonin is commonly used to help regulate sleep patterns in adults, its use and effects in children are not yet well understood. Complicating matters further, melatonin is classified as a dietary supplement and is not regulated by government agencies, leading to potential inaccuracies in product labeling.
Melatonin use in children can lead to several side effects, including excessive sleepiness, stomach problems, headaches, and in extreme cases, high blood pressure. The rising number of children taking melatonin supplements is also a cause for alarm. Sales of melatonin in the US have doubled between 2017 and 2020, reflecting a significant increase in usage.
In several countries, melatonin is classified as a drug and requires a prescription, but in the US, it is readily available over the counter. These differing regulations contribute to the concern regarding the safe and appropriate use of melatonin in children.
Experts emphasize that the high number of children taking melatonin suggests that there may be underlying sleep issues that need to be addressed. They urge parents and caregivers to prioritize alternative interventions, such as addressing behavioral changes, before considering melatonin use. Additionally, experts stress that melatonin should only be used temporarily in young developing bodies, with close supervision from a medical professional.
Adding to the concern is the availability of melatonin in child-friendly gummy form, which increases the risk of accidental ingestion of unsafe levels of the hormone. Reports to poison control centers regarding melatonin ingestion have surged by 530 percent, primarily involving children under five years old.
While melatonin can be a helpful short-term sleep aid for children with autism or severe sleep problems under the guidance of a doctor, its safety and long-term effects remain unclear due to limited and inconsistent research.
In light of these findings, it is crucial for parents, healthcare professionals, and regulatory authorities to reevaluate the use and regulation of melatonin in children to ensure their well-being and safety during crucial stages of development.
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