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Why are doctors concerned about kids using melatonin?

The supplement to help you sleep has surged in popularity recently.

HOUSTON — Why are doctors concerned about kids using melatonin?

The supplement has exploded in popularity in recent years, especially among parents dealing with kids and sleep disruption. It's a problem that got worse during the pandemic.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Americans spent nearly twice as much on melatonin in the past 12 months as they did in the same period three years ago.

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One reason parents feel OK with giving it to children is that is widely considered safe as a temporary sleep aid. But now some doctors are raising concerns because people are forgetting the temporary part of that statement.

While experts confirm melatonin is not addictive, there is little research into the long-term effects of children using melatonin. There's concern it could affect the body’s natural production of melatonin over time, or could even mess with other hormones as kids approach puberty.

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The other problem for pediatric sleep specialists is that there's a difference between addictive and habit-forming. Kids using it for long periods could become psychologically dependent, believing they can’t fall asleep without it.

That’s why most doctors recommend using it on a short-term basis along with behavioral changes like limiting screen time and sticking to a consistent sleep schedule.

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