Children Being Rushed To The ER For Eating What?

Photo by Mathurin NAPOLY / matnapo on Unsplash

( – Recently, there has been a notable surge in incidents where infants and toddlers have accidentally ingested melatonin without supervision, leading to a significant number of emergency room visits. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals a sharp 420 percent increase in emergency room visits by children aged 5 and under due to unsupervised melatonin consumption between 2009 and 2020. From 2019 to 2022 alone, around 11,000 emergency department cases were recorded among this young demographic, attributed to melatonin.

This trend underscores the critical need for better awareness among parents and caregivers regarding the importance of storing medications and supplements, including melatonin, out of the reach and sight of young children. The CDC’s analysis, which estimated that such incidents accounted for approximately 7 percent of all U.S. emergency room visits for unsupervised medication exposures among infants and young children during the 2019-2022 period, indicates a significant public health concern.

Notably, over half of these accidental ingestions involved children between the ages of 3 and 5, with the majority not necessitating hospitalization. The appeal of melatonin products, especially flavored forms like gummies and chewable tablets, to young children has been highlighted as a contributing factor to these incidents.

This increase in pediatric emergencies correlates with a rise in melatonin use among adults in the U.S., seeking it as a remedy for sleep issues. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, melatonin is marketed as a dietary supplement, hence it lacks regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A study in the journal JAMA pointed out inconsistencies in the potency and ingredients of melatonin products compared to their labels, with some products containing significantly higher amounts of melatonin than advertised and others containing unexpected substances like cannabidiol (CBD), which may pose additional risks to children.

Furthermore, the lack of a requirement for child-resistant packaging for melatonin products has been identified as a concern. The CDC discovered that in cases where the type of container was noted, about three-quarters involved children accessing melatonin from bottles, either by opening them themselves or finding bottles that were not securely closed.

Given these findings, choosing products with child-safe packaging could be a prudent measure for households with young children, to mitigate the risk of unsupervised access and ingestion.

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