A US News & World Report explores whether or not it is safe for children to take melatonin to sleep.
To date, research hasn’t determined whether melatonin use could affect the onset of puberty or whether there are any other long-term effects on children’s health, Dr Judith Owens says. “Melatonin actually suppresses some hormones that regulate puberty. So, the concern is that chronic use of melatonin could alter normal pubertal development,” she says, adding that, at present, there’s no evidence to support this – at least that’s been published. “It’s more of a theoretical concern at this point, but I think that’s [what] tends to be most worrisome.”
Owens and other doctors point out that melatonin may be a fitting option for parents of children with autism and other chronic health conditions that make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. It’s important, however, to couple it with behavioral interventions, such as keeping consistent bedtimes and setting limits that don’t allow children to stall by keeping parents at their bedside, as well as creating an environment that makes it easier to unwind, including not allowing TVs and other electronics in the bedroom, experts say, and to aim to ultimately wean kids off the supplements, when and where possible.