A new evidence-based summary reveals that for children with insomnia, behavioral interventions should be tried before melatonin or other pharmacologic treatments, as reported by Family Practice News.

“Medication should rarely be our first choice. We should always be trying to combine it with behavioral therapies, because they work just as well and last longer,” reported Dr. Jess P. Shatkin, a professor in the department of child and adolescent psychiatry, New York University.

The number of randomized trials for sleep medications in children is limited, and there is no pharmacotherapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration for this indication, Dr. Shatkin said. Clinicians often extrapolate from adult studies, but Dr. Shatkin said these data are not necessarily transferable. He noted, for example, that a study of zolpidem in children, which is approved for adults, was negative.

The antihistamine diphenhydramine also has been studied in children, and results were mixed. In one of two double-blind, placebo-controlled pediatric studies, parents reported improvement in getting children to sleep. In the other, conducted in children aged 6 months to 15 months, no significant advantage was found for this agent over placebo.

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