Clinica Pediatrica, IRCCS “Burlo Garofolo”, Università di Trieste
Key words: Melatonin, Sleep disorders
Melatonin is an hormone secreted by the pineal gland in relation to exposure to light. It regulates sleep and circadian rhythm in mammals. Melatonin therapy in humans was first successfully used in blind adults with sleep disturbances. More recently melatonin has been used to treat jet-lag. We performed a review of the literature about the efficacy of melatonin in sleep disorders in children with and without neurological impairment. In the former, melatonin seems to be effective to treat difficulties in getting asleep but not fragmented sleep or early morning wakening. Melatonin should be used with caution in any child with epilepsy in view of the increased seizure frequency, which was shown in one study, although not confirmed by other studies. In healthy children with chronic severe sleep problems the experience with melatonin therapy is still insufficient, and further studies are needed.
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