Melatonin overdose and children: a study sounds alarming

According to a US study, 2021 saw an increase in child poisoning cases associated with an excess of melatonin in the body

Melatonin overdose: risks for children

Can a substance that is normal and beneficial and absolutely harmless harm your health? Yes, if consumption turns into abuse. Also there melatonin in fact, despite its undeniable properties, if taken in excessive doses, it can lead to serious contraindications, especially in younger subjects. To say it is a recent report from Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which showed that from 10 years to now, the number of cases of melatonin overdose in children is in continuous and exponential growth.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in certain amounts by our body. This hormone is actually secreted by the pineal gland (or epiphysis) – an endocrine gland found in the brain – and plays a very important role in sleep quality and in regulation of sleep-wake cycle. It is therefore a natural substance, in itself not harmful, and it actually comes often integrated by taking tablets or soluble solutions to improve the quality of your rest. Doctors may even recommend it to counteract the effects of insomnia.

But despite the many beneficial properties attributed to it and the “knowledge” that this hormone has come to our common use, even melatonin it should not be taken in large doses.

The CDC study

As revealed by the study published on June 3, 2022 by Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most important public health oversight body in the United States, there was a sharp increase in cases related to melatonin poisoning in the pediatric age group, with an increase of 530% over previous decades and a total of 260,435 accidents requiring the intervention of medical staff, resulting in 4,000 admissions, of which over 300 were resolved using intensive care.

Such exponential growth – reports the CDC – is often caused by accidental ingestion (as much as 4.9% of the total number of pediatric oral poisonings recorded in 2021, compared to 0.6% in 2012) of very young children who manage to get their fingers in bottles and bottles of melanin-based supplements, but do not lack related episodes to incorrect dosages from parents worried about their children’s difficulty sleeping peacefully.

In fact, in unfavorable cases, the boom does not just seem to be related diffusion still more common than dietary supplements (only between 2016 and 2020 sales of the product grew by 150%), but also to consequences dictated by two years of pandemic, where many children between lockdowns, quarantines and distance learning have experienced developing severe sleep disorders, causing mom and dad to look for a remedy in melatonin supplementation. This has therefore significantly increased the risk of a bottle of supplements ending up in a child’s inexperienced hands, thus contributing to the troubled statistics.

What are the side effects of melatonin?

Therefore, even melatonin can be harmful if not taken within the prescribed conditions from the package leaflet or from the prescriptions of the attending physician. That’s why it’s basic Do not confuse supplements with sweets and underestimate its effects. A subject that suffers from autoimmune diseasesshould, for example, refrain from taking such products.

But what are the possible side effects of a massive use of melatonin supplements? The most common are:

  • Persistent drowsiness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea.

But the Istituto Superiore della Sanità also lists less common contraindications on its website, such as:

  • Tremors.
  • Anxiety.
  • Temporary depression and / or irritability.
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Difficulty concentrating.

If the child has similar symptoms, it is better to monitor the situation and, if in doubt, seek medical advice.

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