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Should kids take melatonin?

A local doctor says it's relatively safe for adults but doesn't recommend it for children. Here's why.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Melatonin is taking TikTok by storm, with many adults admitting they're #melatonin addicts. 

You may have taken it a few times if you've had trouble sleeping. 

It's even available over the counter for kids. 

However, a local doctor does not recommend you give melatonin to your kids. 

Dr. Steven Lipshultz is the chair of pediatrics at UB's Jacobs School of Medicine

He says melatonin is relatively safe for adults -- but for kids -- too much of it can lead to an overdose, which can be life-threatening.  

Other symptoms can include gastrointestinal effects, nausea, mood swings, and headaches. 

Melatonin poisonings in children have skyrocketed over the last two decades. 

According to the CDC, it's up 530%.

So why are kids struggling to sleep? 

Lipshultz says the rise of energy drinks plays a role, and environmental factors are just part of it. 

"After multivitamins, melatonin is the second most popular, natural product parents give to their children. It's widely available over the counter and marketed as a sleep aid. But really the data is not there that it's effective in treating insomnia in healthy children," Lipshultz said. 

"It's regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It's a supplement and it has much less oversight. And the amount of melatonin, because these are supplements, is not carefully regulated by the FDA. They can vary by a factor of eight. So you're never really sure what you're children are getting."

He says if your child has a hard time sleeping, limit their screen time and ensure they're on a sleep schedule. 

If that doesn't work, he recommends you take your child to a sleep specialist so they can get to the root of the problem. 

UB does have a sleep program specifically just for children. 

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine also put out a health advisory this month -- telling parents they should speak with health professionals before giving their kids melatonin. 

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