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Should Parents Give Children Melatonin?

A recent article on introduced the possible dangers of giving small children melatonin to help them sleep.

The article discusses how studies of melatonin use in children with mental retardation, autism, psychiatric disorders, visual impairment or epilepsy has shown to increase the duration of sleep. However, research regarding the long-term effects is non-existent.

“Using melatonin to improve sleep in children may be relatively safe, but medicalizes a problem of childhood that is better addressed behaviorally,” said Dr. Saul Rothenberg, a board-certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist at North Shore-LIJ Sleep Disorders Center in Great Neck, N.Y., in an email to

Dr. Adiaha Franklin, a pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital, told CBS affiliate KHOU in Houston she recommends melatonin for kids with autism or ADHD, but suggests trying other methods to boost the sleep chemical first. Turning off the television or computer before bedtime is one way to help.

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