Melatonin overdoses in children rise in Missouri, across the US

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 2:06 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2022 at 3:42 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Over the past decade, the number of children overdosing on melatonin, a sleep aid, has increased by 530%, according to a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Missouri is one state that has experienced this greatly. Julie Weber is the Missouri Poison Center Director and a pharmacist. She said Missouri alone had had 119 melatonin overdose cases in the past month and over 1600 cases in the past year. Weber said part of the reason there are so many cases is due to the pandemic, but children spend too much time looking at screens.

“Parents could also be looking for sleep solutions as well as anxiety and different patterns of their sleep and play behaviors,” Weber said.

Another reason for this increase is most likely since melatonin is more available nowadays and it’s a recently popular supplement. She said they’re seeing cases coming in that include younger children getting into their parents’ medicine cabinets.

“Some of our cases have been from children five and under,” she said. “It’s been more unintentional exposures where it looks like a gummy or candy, and it tastes good.”

However, she said some of the overdoses aren’t unintentional.

“We do have some spread of tweens, teens, and adolescents getting into it,” Weber said.

Weber did not have specific numbers on suicides caused by melatonin overdoses. Still, she said there is a rise in suicides involving older children, and the Missouri Poison Center is watching those cases closely.

She also gave some helpful tips for parents with young children that could be exposed to melatonin and other common supplements in medicine cabinets.

“If you do have a melatonin product at home, it’s always best to keep it out of sight, out of reach, and if possible, in a locked cabinet.”

She also said obtaining a medication lock box or getting a child resistance package are good ways to prevent kids from getting into it.

Weber said the best possible action to take is to program the poison helpline number into your cellphone, or you can download their app to get immediate poison help.

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