Melatonin use in children who can’t sleep prompts safety warning

Children and young people in England are being given the hormone Melatonin to help them sleep, prompting concern that there is little evidence of its long-term effectiveness or safety. Melatonin, which is produced naturally by the body, has been authorised for use by people aged over 55. It has been hailed as a less addictive alternative to insomnia drug treatments.

Despite the fact it is not licensed for use by any other age group, 117,085 people under 18 were given Melatonin to aid sleep in the 2017-18 financial year. In the first four months of the current financial year, 69,280 prescriptions were given to under-18s. Experts have expressed concern that the hormone may be being overprescribed by paediatricians due to the fact that there are few alternatives to support children with insomnia.

Madeline Seibert says…
“Our concern is that Melatonin is being prescribed unnecessarily and doctors should carefully consider the reason for the child’s inability to sleep. Children lose sleep for many reasons and Melatonin should never be a substitute for healthy sleep practices, a regular, age-appropriate and consistent bedtime and bedtime routine, no caffeine, and no electronics or screens before bedtime”.

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