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Study Finds 420% Uptick in Child ER Visits Due to Melatonin Poisoning

As more parents pop melatonin to sleep, more kids are finding their way into their gummy stashes and, ultimately in the hospital. Learn more about the increase and how to protect your little one.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published March 13, 2024
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Image: Kittyfly | Shutterstock

Between stress, anxiety and late-night screen usage, it’s no wonder that so many Americans struggle to fall and stay asleep. For parents getting a good night’s rest can be even more difficult with a crying little one. So in pursuit of a good snooze without a habit-forming sleep pill, millions of Americans have turned to melatonin as their night-time go-to. But as melatonin usage rates skyrocket among adults, so do emergency room (ER) visits among children.

In a recent March 7 edition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a study highlighted the alarming uptick in melatonin-related poisonings. According to the data, between 2012 and 2021, the CDC saw a 530 percent increase in poison center calls related to a child’s exposure to melatonin. While by and large these 260,435 reported ingestions didn’t lead to any harm, many kids were still hospitalized for concerns.

In fact, between 2009 to 2020 researchers observed a 420 percent increase in emergency department (ED) visits for unsupervised melatonin ingestion—implicating it in 7 percent of all ER visits for accidental medicine exposures by children between 2019 and 2022. The adds up to almost 11,000 visits over three years.

Experts believe that this growing number is likely due to melatonin’s generally attractive gummy packaging and easily accessible bottles. “Gummy formulations (47.3 percent) were the most commonly documented dosage form,” researchers noted in the study. In more than a third of cases, children swallowed 10 or more melatonin gummies or tablets. “At least 32.8 percent of infants and children accessed melatonin from a bottle,” the team added. Because melatonin is a supplement not regulated by the FDA, bottles are not required to be child-resistant and dosages can vary widely.

So what should concerned parents do? The CDC recommends that they invest in child-resistant bottles for their melatonin and all supplements and store them in ann elevated place out of reach. Learn more about melatonin, whether it’s safe to take during pregnancy and what to do in event that your child gets into melatonin.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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