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Evidence based Pediatrics

How can melatonin be useful to school age children and adolescents with sleep onset delay?


Barroso Espadero Da, Ugarte Libano Rb

aPediatra. CS Cáceres-Mejostilla. Área Sanitaria de Cáceres. Cáceres. España.
bPediatra. CS Olaguibel. Servicio Vasco de Salud-Osakidetza. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Álava. España.

Correspondence: D Barroso. Email:

Reference of this article.:

Barroso Espadero D, Ugarte Libano R. ¿Qué puede aportar el tratamiento con melatonina a niños mayores y adolescentes con retraso de inicio de sueño?. Rev Pediatr Aten Primaria. 2012;14:167-77.

Published in Internet: 09/07/2012


Authors’ conclusions: melatonin demonstrated efficacy (sleep parameters) in school aged children and adolescents whit delayed sleep phase disorders: advancing sleep onset time, delayed latency, and others. An earlier time of administration could increase the effect. The adverse events rates were: low (none serious). Results in waking hours (cognition, general health, mood…): few improvements.

Reviewers' commentary: the results evidenced that melatonin did better than placebo. It could be used in selected cases of chronic sleep onset insomnia. Small benefit (doubtful clinical significance) that disappears after short-term treatment periods. Remain unproved: prolonged treatments (safety…); benefits in waking hours; recommendation of earlier time of administration. Patients with longer times of delay: not specifically investigated.

Evidences coming from few studies of small sample size, most of them not from healthy children (high percentages of: ADHD, comorbidities and stimulants drugs).

Keywords: Sleep disorders, circadian rhythm. Treatment. Adolescent. Melatonin. Child. Sleep disorders.



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