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ER Visits for Infant, Child Melatonin Poisonings Are Soaring

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As the use of over-the-counter melatonin increases among adults to aid sleep, a concerning trend is emerging - a surge in young children ending up in emergency rooms after accidentally ingesting these supplements.

A recent report covering data from 2012 to 2021 reveals a staggering 420% increase in such cases, coupled with a 530% rise in calls to poison control centers regarding child melatonin ingestion.

According to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although the majority of these incidents did not result in severe harm or hospitalization, melatonin was implicated in 7% of all emergency department visits for unsupervised medication exposures by infants and young children between 2019 and 2022, amounting to approximately 11,000 cases over three years.

But why are so many young children getting their hands on melatonin at home?

The study, led by CDC investigator Maribeth Lovegrove and published in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on March 7, points to flavored melatonin products such as gummies or chewable tablets, which are often appealing to children. These formulations were involved in at least half of emergency room visits for melatonin ingestions.

The researchers highlighted the significant increase in adult use of over-the-counter melatonin over the past two decades, which likely contributes to the availability of these products in homes. They examined a national database of emergency room admissions for unsupervised melatonin ingestion by infants and children, revealing that gummy formulations were the most commonly documented dosage form ingested by kids.

Alarmingly, more than a third of cases involved babies or toddlers ingesting 10 or more melatonin gummies or tablets, and in over 32.8% of instances, children accessed melatonin from an open bottle.

One notable factor contributing to these incidents is the lack of child-resistant packaging for melatonin supplements. The researchers recommended selecting products with child-resistant packaging, particularly in households with young children, to mitigate the risk of accidental ingestion.

As the popularity of melatonin continues to rise, it's crucial for caregivers and adults to be vigilant about storing these supplements safely out of reach of children and opting for child-resistant packaging whenever possible. Vigilance and proper storage can play a crucial role in preventing potentially harmful incidents and safeguarding the well-being of young children.


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