Wellness Wednesday: Day care workers arrested in Chicago for feeding toddlers melatonin gummy bears at naptime

Melatonin is not approved by the FDA to treat sleeplessness in kids, folks

If you’re a parent and you give your children melatonin, that is something you should do with the guidance of a pediatrician and in the privacy of your own home. For a daycare provider to dispense melatonin gummy bears as a “naptime snack” is unethical and illegal. We don’t know enough about how melatonin affects children’s sleep-wake cycles and overall brain development to be so cavalier about this practice.

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From TIME:  Day Care Workers Gave Kids Gummy Bears Containing Sleep Aid, Police Say

Let’s review…

Children are not typically cleared to use melatonin as a sleep aid.

Just because they are melatonin gummy bears does not make them safe or legal to dispense by daycare workers. If pediatricians are cautious about its use in kids (and they are), then parents and caregivers need to be even more careful.

Research has not focused on the use of melatonin in children; while it can’t make them sick, it can still lead to other adverse effects. Science still knows very little about how it might impact their development.

One of the biggest concerns is this: if taken in the middle of the day, melatonin can significantly disrupt a child’s sleep-wake patterns and lead to huge bedtime problems.

If you are considering giving your child melatonin, please discuss with your pediatrician first and do it while under their observation.

Learn more about why melatonin shouldn’t be taken during the day (by children or adults)

Are disrupted circadian rhythms a problem? Yes!

Over time they will lead to a whole series of chronic conditions (cardiovascular problems, mood and behavior problems, diabetes, to begin with).

Learn more about problems with misaligned circadian rhythms.

What’s wrong with taking melatonin to help children nap?

Daytime naps in children are usually a good thing, but only if the child needs to sleep or rest in midday. Forced napping, especially at the wrong time of the day, can lead to decreases in “sleep drive” and evening melatonin production, both which result in sleeplessness, restlessness, insomnia and other avenues to sleep deprivation.

Preschool-aged children have a wide variety of nap patterns and schedules; “one size does not fit all.” Forcing a child to nap (especially while using a circadian regulator such as melatonin) when he or she is not tired isn’t healthy for them if they are ready to discard daytime naps.

Learn more about the downside of daytime napping (for people of all ages).

From two experts

About Tamara Kaye Sellman (621 Articles)

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