Dietary supplements are more popular than ever. In the United States, 77% of adults take them regularly, with consumption reaching an all-time high in 2019. Of those consumers, up to 83% have children under 18, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of the dangers these products pose apparently harmless, they can cause the little ones.
Most adults do not tend to consider vitamins and nutritional supplements dangerous, they are often left on the table or on the bed, becoming accessible to small children. Melatonin, in particular, is usually left on the nightstand to be easily taken before bed. Unfortunately, leaving melatonin out of reach of children can be very dangerous. Last year alone, the supplement led to more than 52,000 calls to US poison control centers, six times more than in the past decade.
Melatonin, a hormone necessary for restful sleep
Melatonin has gained popularity as a safe way to treat insomnia and mild sleep disorders because it is considered a safe, non-addictive dietary supplement and is available in pharmacies without a prescription. Recently, melatonin supplements have also been made in the form of gum, which makes it particularly attractive for young children.
Melatonin supplements can be fatal for some children
Of the 52,000 cases of poisoning registered in the last year, most of the children who ingested the substance did not end up needing hospitalization. However, more than 4,000 required hospitalization, and five of them were ventilated. Two children, ages 3 and 13 months, died at home after ingesting a melatonin supplement.
What led to the increase in cases?
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that the high number of melatonin poisonings is due to the supplement becoming popular. Increased sleep disturbances during the pandemic and the presence of many children at home due to school closures would have contributed to a higher incidence of poisonings. That is why it is recommended to use melatonin with caution and keep food supplements in a safe storage space, inaccessible to children.