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International Journal of Pediatrics
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 892624, 11 pages
Review Article

Clinical Uses of Melatonin in Pediatrics

1Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of Cantabria and Institute of Formation and Research “Marques de Valdecilla” (IFIMAV), 39011 Santander, Spain
2Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, University of Texas Health Science Centre, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA

Received 28 December 2010; Revised 31 March 2011; Accepted 8 April 2011

Academic Editor: Myron Genel

Copyright © 2011 Emilio J. Sánchez-Barceló et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study analyzes the results of clinical trials of treatments with melatonin conducted in children, mostly focused on sleep disorders of different origin. Melatonin is beneficial not only in the treatment of dyssomnias, especially delayed sleep phase syndrome, but also on sleep disorders present in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity, autism spectrum disorders, and, in general, in all sleep disturbances associated with mental, neurologic, or other medical disorders. Sedative properties of melatonin have been used in diagnostic situations requiring sedation or as a premedicant in children undergoing anesthetic procedures. Epilepsy and febrile seizures are also susceptible to treatment with melatonin, alone or associated with conventional antiepileptic drugs. Melatonin has been also used to prevent the progression in some cases of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. In newborns, and particularly those delivered preterm, melatonin has been used to reduce oxidative stress associated with sepsis, asphyxia, respiratory distress, or surgical stress. Finally, the administration of melatonin, melatonin analogues, or melatonin precursors to the infants through the breast-feeding, or by milk formula adapted for day and night, improves their nocturnal sleep. Side effects of melatonin treatments in children have not been reported. Although the above-described results are promising, specific studies to resolve the problem of dosage, formulations, and length of treatment are necessary.