Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Significant Increase in Pediatric Ingestions: Over the decade 2012–2021, pediatric ingestions of melatonin surged by 530%, with a total of 260,435 cases reported. This rise is mainly attributed to unintentional ingestions among children aged ≤5 years.
  2. Risk of Hospitalization and Serious Outcomes: There was an increase in pediatric hospitalizations and more serious outcomes due to melatonin ingestions. Five children required mechanical ventilation, and two fatalities were reported, highlighting the risk of severe adverse effects.
  3. Widespread Accessibility and Use: The availability of melatonin as an over-the-counter sleep aid has grown, with sales increasing significantly from $285 million in 2016 to $821 million in 2020. This accessibility has likely contributed to the increased risk of exposure among children.
  4. Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic: The largest annual increase in ingestions coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting that increased home confinement and availability of melatonin during the pandemic may have contributed to the spike in cases.
  5. Need for Awareness and Preventive Measures: The study calls for enhanced public health initiatives to raise awareness about the risks of pediatric melatonin ingestions and the development of preventive measures, including child-resistant packaging and cautioning parents about potential toxic exposures.

Original Article Author and Citation

Corresponding Author

Karima Lelak, .

Suggested Citation

Lelak K, Vohra V, Neuman MI, Toce MS, Sethuraman U. Pediatric Melatonin Ingestions — United States, 2012–2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:725–729. DOI: .


The study assessed the prevalence of pediatric melatonin ingestions in the United States from 2012 to 2021, revealing a 530% increase in reported cases. The rise in unintentional ingestions among children aged ≤5 years contributed significantly to this increase, along with an uptick in hospitalizations and severe outcomes.


This cross-sectional study utilized data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System, focusing on isolated melatonin ingestions among children and adolescents aged ≤19 years. It excluded non-ingestion exposures, information requests, unknown age exposures, and non-human exposures.


The study discusses the growing accessibility and popularity of melatonin as a sleep aid, its risks, especially among young children, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the increase in ingestions. It highlights the need for stricter regulatory oversight and public health measures to mitigate these risks.


There’s a pressing need for increased awareness and preventive strategies to safeguard children from the risks of melatonin ingestion. Public health initiatives, including child-resistant packaging and better education for parents on safe storage and usage, are crucial steps forward.

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