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Use of Melatonin in Children

Posted on Nov. 10, 2003, 8:23 a.m. in Melatonin

I am just posting this for my own reference. Feel free to reply. I am tired of being accused of being a bad parent for giving Korben 0.25 mg of melatonin TWICE in the entirety of his life. My reasons for doing it are no one's business but my own, but I DID do my research before I decided to give it to him. Not only did I research it, but I asked medical professionals for their opinions on the subject, and I also got anecdotal experiences from friends. There was not a single thing I found, besides the standard warning on the bottle, (which reads "not intended for use by persons with depression, psychiatric or autoimmune disorders, or for persons under the age of 18") that made me even think twice about giving it to him.

  1. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/448467 - One study of 20 children with developmental disabilities found that children given melatonin fell asleep significantly more quickly, but did not experience overall longer sleep durations or wake less frequently. A second slightly larger study of 46 children with neurodevelopmental disorders found that sleep improved in 34 of the children and none experienced side effects. Only a very few studies have examined the use of this hormone in children without disability. For example, a study of 40 elementary school children without neurologic problems who were experiencing delayed sleep onset found that over the duration of the 4-week study, melatonin was relatively safe and significantly more effective than placebo in advancing sleep onset and increasing sleep. Of note, tests that examined attention span in these children found that, even in those whose sleep improved, measures of attention did not change.

  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=12069468&dopt=Abstract - Melatonin may provide an alternative to conventional sedation regimes and GA for uncooperative children undergoing an MRI examination.

  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=8989717&dopt=Abstract - Melatonin, which benefitted slightly over 80% of our patients, appears to be a safe, inexpensive, and a very effective treatment of sleep-wake cycle disorders. The oral dose of fast release melatonin taken at bed-time ranged from 2.5 mg to 10 mg. Side effects or the development of tolerance have not been observed.

  4. http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/medicine_cabinet/melatonin_sleep_problems.html - They found that the melatonin significantly improved almost all aspects of sleep in most of the children and around 93% recorded significant benefits. The average number of hours sleep that the children had each week increased by around 10%, from 54 hours/week before taking the melatonin to 66 hours/week while taking the melatonin. The number of interruptions to sleep each week decreased by 50% from an average of seven interruptions per week before taking the melatonin, to 3.5 interruptions while taking the drug. Also, the number of hours of interrupted sleep decreased by 45%, from nine hours awake each week during a sleep interruption pre melatonin, to five hours per week while taking melatonin. There were no major side effects from the medication in any of the children and importantly there was no change in the frequency or severity of seizures in children with epilepsy. Boys and girls were equally likely to respond well to melatonin. The visually impaired children were the most likely to have success with melatonin, but around three-quarters of the fully sighted children also responded very well.

  5. http://www.keele.ac.uk/depts/mm/MTRAC/ProductInfo/verdicts/M/MELATONINv.html - The limited clinical data suggest that melatonin is well tolerated in children.

  6. http://www.autism.org/melatonin.html - "the fact that melatonin can stabilize and promote normal sleep and daily bodily rhythms is presently certain." (this article includes instructions for giving it to autistic children and other kids who have sleep disorders and other sleep problems)

  7. http://www.gsdl.com/assessments/finddisease/autism/melatonin.html - some studies have observed that nightly melatonin supplementation in children ... appears to improve sleep patterns in up to 80% of these children.6 In one Japanese study, utilizing melatonin to improve the sleep habits of autistic children also reduced the amount of emotional and behavior problems in the children.7

  8. http://www.healthy.net/asp/templates/article.asp?PageType=Article&ID=194 - A recent report described the use of melatonin to treat sleep disorders in hyperactive and neurologically compromised children: small nightly doses corrected the sleep problems, and investigators noticed improved mood and more stable and sociable dispositions tended to accompany the use of mleatonin with these children.

  9. http://www.melatonin.com/melatonin-faq1.htm - "Although long-term, high-dose melatonin supplementation might interfere with puberty and reproductive cycles, your teenage children - and even younger kids - might be happier, healthier travelers if they re-set their clocks quickly with help from melatonin supplements." (MAAH, pg. 112-113)

  10. http://www.gsdl.com/assessments/finddisease/sleep/melatonin.html - Melatonin therapy was found to benefit over 80% of these children, and was lauded as a "safe, inexpensive, and very effective treatment of sleep-wake cycle disorders."

  11. http://www.my.webmd.com/content/drugs/3/4046_2063?bn=Melatonin - There is no information available regarding the use of melatonin by children. Do not give any herbal / health supplement to a child without first talking to the child's doctor. (I did not speak with my child's doctor, but I did speak with 2 pharmacists and a pharmacy tech, and all of them said that in such a small dose, it was safe to give to an infant)

  12. http://www.cps.ca/english/statements/PP/pp02-03.pdf - Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant with immunological and neuroprotective effects. It has been successful in treating sleep problems in children with ADHD (59,60). Side effects include reduced daytime alertness, increased fatigue, sleepiness, headache and irritability with high doses.(This from the Canadian Pediatric Society... Again, Korben exhibited NONE of the side effects because he did not have a high dose)


These are just a dozen of the thousands of articles out there about the use of melatonin in children. Out of the 80 or so sites I looked at dealing with medical professionals and studies about using melatonin in children, there was only one that said he would not suggest using melatonin in children, but only because most of the data available deals specifically with children with neurological disorders, and doesn't study the long-term effects of prolonged melatonin use.

That article is here, but it doesn't change my opinion that using melatonin to encourage Korben to settle to sleep when it was exactly what he needed would not harm him, because I did not use it over a prolonged period of time, and it was less than 10% of the recommended dosage for use in children under 2 in all of those studies. Out of the sites I looked at, about 5 or 6 percent of them were links to sites that sold melatonin and had warnings similar to the one I wrote above. The majority of the sites I saw listed positive effects from children's melatonin use, with minimal side effects that only occurred when the children were given high doses of it.

It was effective, there were no adverse side effects, and after I gave it to him, his sleep patterns stabilized and things got better. I would do it again, in a heartbeat, if I thought he needed it.

Source: http://www.livejournal.com/users/tabbyfoo/404632.html

[Editor: The preceding article was not written by A4M/WHN]

  

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