Melatonin Poisoning Reports Are Up In Kids, Study Says

The label for a bottle of melatonin pills is seen in New York on Thursday, June 2, 2022. Melatonin is a hormone that helps control the body's sleep cycle. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

NEW YORK (AP) — Researchers are drawing attention to a rise in poisonings in children involving the sleep aid melatonin — including a big jump during the pandemic.

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Last year, U.S. poison control centers received more than 52,000 calls about children consuming worrisome amounts of the dietary supplement — a six-fold increase from about a decade earlier. Most such calls are about young children who accidentally got into bottles of melatonin, some of which come in the form of gummies for kids.

Parents may think of melatonin as the equivalent of a vitamin and leave it on a nightstand, said Dr. Karima Lelak, an emergency physician at Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the lead author of the study published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “But really it’s a medication that has the potential to cause harm, and should be put way in the medicine cabinet,” Lelak said.


Melatonin is a hormone that helps control the body’s sleep cycle. It has become a popular over-the-counter sleeping aid, with sales increasing 150% between 2016 and 2020, the authors said.

In the U.S., melatonin is sold as a supplement, not regulated as a drug. Because melatonin is unregulated, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have oversight over the purity of ingredients or the accuracy of dosage claims.

Other researchers have found that what’s on the label may not match what’s actually in the bottle, and some countries have banned the sale of over-the-counter melatonin.


Many people can tolerate even relatively large doses of melatonin without significant harm, experts say. But there is no antidote for an overdose. In cases of a child accidentally ingesting melatonin, experts often ask a reliable adult to monitor them at home.

But slowed breathing or other worrisome signs can mean a child should be taken to a hospital.


Lelak and her colleagues looked at reports to poison control centers from 2012 to 2021, counting more than 260,000 calls about kids taking too much melatonin. They represented 0.6% of all poison control calls in 2012 and about 5% in 2021.

In about 83% of those calls, the children did not show any symptoms. But other children endured vomiting, had altered breathing or showed other symptoms. Over the 10 years studied, more than 4,000 kids were hospitalized, five needed to be put on machines to help them breathe, and two — both younger than 2 — died.

Most of the hospitalized children were teenagers, and many of those were believed to be suicide attempts.


Reported melatonin poisonings have been increasing for at least a decade, but the largest increases happened after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in 2020. Between 2019 and 2020, the count shot up 38%.

There may be several reasons, Lelak said. Because of lockdowns and virtual learning, more children were at home all day, meaning there were more opportunities for kids to access melatonin. Also, the pandemic caused sleep-disrupting stress and anxiety that may have caused more families to consider melatonin.

“Children were upset about being home, teenagers were closed off from friends. And on top of all that everyone’s looking at screens for hours and hours a day,” Lelak said.

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1 year ago

What a joke.
“They are now attacking melatonin as its part of the protocol to treat covid” nothing more.

Let’s look at numbers.
” 83% of those calls, the children did not show any symptoms” .
Basically…. Meaning it’s not an issue!

“Over the 10 years studied, more than 4,000 kids were hospitalized”
Just for argument sake let’s agree that ALL kids needed to be hospitalized, that’s 400 kids a year! That equals to .002 or less…

But it gets better….
“five needed to be put on machines to help them breathe, and two — both younger than 2 — died”

5 kids out of the 4000 needed help breathing, and ONLY 2 which both under age of 2, – which you should not over dose ANYTHING died.

10 years millions of users and two deaths! That’s basically the safest drug out there!

Safer than any food!

I wish the Tylenol, Advil, Flu Shot, etc
would have such a safety profile!

Yet the headlines “melatonin ☠”!
They are coming for our supplements! Especially anything that treats covid! NAC was removed… Now coming for melatonin!

Last edited 1 year ago by Moshe
A yid
A yid
1 year ago

Anything safe which might be beneficial against covid becomes a fear mongering headline with no basis in fact

1 year ago

Tylenol probably kills 100 times more people per year than melatonin in it’s entire history. As with all supplements and medications it’s important to keep out of reach of kids. But at least with melatonin it’s really unlikely they would be harmed even if they did overdose. Now if only I can think of a reason why the medical establishment is going after a relatively harmless supplement….

Conservative Carl
Conservative Carl
1 year ago

Melatonin should be in pill form, not gummies, or if they must be gummies, they should be sold in bubble packs rather than bottles.