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Kids and melatonin: Poisonings up more than 500%, CDC says

Photo: Igor Bostanika/iStockphoto

Poisonings involving kids and melatonin – a supplement people take to try to improve their sleep – climbed 530% over a recent 10-year period, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers examined reports made to poison control centers involving children, adolescents and teens between 2012 and 2021. Overall, more than 260,000 cases were reported. Of those, 94.3% were unintentional, 99% occurred at home and 83.8% involved kids 5 or younger. Nearly 11% of the cases required hospitalization.


Symptoms of melatonin poisoning include gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and central nervous system effects.

The largest single-year increase – 37.9% – occurred from 2019 to 2020, coinciding with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers say possible contributors include kids spending more time at home because of school closures and increased availability of melatonin in homes as people experienced pandemic-related sleep problems.

Sales of melatonin as an over-the-counter sleep aid rose around 150% from 2016 to 2020, according to the report, which was published online in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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