Melatonin, a hormone released by the pineal gland, plays a crucial role in regulating sleep-wake cycles. Recently, a research letter published in JAMA Pediatrics shed light on the prevalence of melatonin use among children and adolescents in the United States. The study, conducted by Lauren E. Hartstein, Ph.D., and colleagues from the University of Colorado in Boulder, aimed to understand sleep-related practices and melatonin use in children aged 1.0 to 13.9 years.
The researchers analyzed data from 993 children and adolescents, revealing some intriguing findings. Notably, the study highlighted a higher prevalence of melatonin consumption in school-aged children and preteens (18.5% and 19.4%, respectively) compared to preschool children (5.6%). However, there was no significant difference in the frequency of melatonin use across age groups, suggesting a consistent pattern of usage. Interestingly, the study also observed an increase in melatonin dosage with age. Preschool children had a median dosage of 0.5 mg, while preteens consumed a median of 2 mg.
The duration of melatonin consumption varied across age groups as well. Preschool children reported a median length of 12.0 months, while school-aged children and preteens reported 18.0 and 21.0 months, respectively. In terms of administration, melatonin gummies emerged as the most popular form among children (64.3%), followed by chewable tablets (27.0%), pills (6.3%), and liquid (2.4%).
Considering the growing interest in melatonin as a sleep aid for children, it is essential to address concerns regarding its long-term safety. Dr. Hartstein emphasizes the need for further research to understand the potential risks and benefits associated with prolonged melatonin use in children. While this study does not provide evidence of harm, it calls for caution and highlights the importance of informed decision-making when considering melatonin as a sleep aid for children.
Q: What is melatonin?
A: Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles.
Q: What did the study reveal about melatonin use in children?
A: The study found that melatonin consumption is prevalent among children and adolescents in the United States, with higher usage in school-aged children and preteens compared to preschool children.
Q: Was there a difference in dosage and duration of melatonin use across age groups?
A: Yes, the study showed an increase in melatonin dosage with age. Preschool children had a median dosage of 0.5 mg, while preteens consumed a median of 2 mg. The duration of melatonin use also increased with age.
Q: What are the common forms of melatonin administration in children?
A: Melatonin gummies were found to be the most common form of administration among children, followed by chewable tablets, pills, and liquid.
Q: Is melatonin safe for children in the long term?
A: The study does not provide evidence of harm, but caution is advised. Further research is required to understand the safety and long-term effects of melatonin use in children. It is crucial for parents to make informed decisions when considering melatonin as a sleep aid for their children.