Scientists warn about the dangers of melatonin supplements for children

Doctors from the USA have found that gummy bears with melatonin contain dangerous doses of the hormone

Scientists at Harvard Medical School have found that dietary supplements can contain dangerous levels of melatonin. The study is published in the journal JAMA .

The U.S. health authorities previously reported a 500 percent increase in calls to the poison control center for children poisoned with melatonin from gummies. More than four thousand children were hospitalized, 287 needed intensive care, and two died. The majority of hospitalizations were in teenagers who deliberately took large doses of supplements.

These dietary supplements have been advertised by manufacturers as safe sleep aids. In a new study, researchers found that 22 out of 25 supplement brands contained, on average, 347% more melatonin than what was listed on the label. However, one product did not contain melatonin at all.

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the brain in response to darkness. This substance helps to set the internal “clock” of the body and promotes sleep. Melatonin gummies contain a synthetic version of the hormone. But because they are sold as dietary supplements, they are not subject to the same rules as drugs. This means that there is no guarantee that the ingredients match what is listed on the label.

The authors noted that taking melatonin for children with sleep problems may be less effective than making lifestyle changes to normal sleep patterns and limiting screen exposure at night. Melatonin should only be taken under medical supervision.

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