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Growing number of US children taking melatonin for sleep

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Melatonin given to children in the US

Melatonin use is becoming "exceedingly common" among American children, with nearly one in five under age 14 now consuming melatonin to aid sleep.

Parents are increasingly giving it to younger children. About 18% of children age five to nine are using it as a sleep aid, a new study suggests.

Last year, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued a health advisory about melatonin use for young people.

They said parents should consult a doctor before giving it to children.

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain that regulates a person's sleep cycle. It is one of the most common supplements parents in the US give to their children, according to Harvard Health.

In the US, melatonin is considered a dietary supplement - unlike in many countries, where it is classified as a drug - and can be bought without a prescription.

Research in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, published this month, spoke to parents of 993 children, ages one to 14, and found a significant increase in the reported use of melatonin in recent years.

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