Three daycare workers in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines were arrested and charged with giving children Gummy Bears with the sleep aid Melatonin. Numerous media outlets compared the women to drug dealers who distributed illegal narcotics to children. But is Melatonin illegal?
Media outlets portrayed the nurses as criminals. They used overly dramatic terms such as "laced with" to give the impression that the Gummy Bears were tampered with.
In fact, Gummy Bears with Melatonin are sold over-the-counter in Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, and other drug stores. So why is it illegal in Illinois?
Melatonin is not a prescription drug. It is categorized as a dietary supplement that has the added benefits of aiding sleep. Many people take Melatonin tablets to help them sleep at night. Melatonin is a substance that is produced naturally in the body.
Giving children sleep aids is not an unusual occurrence in daycare centers and even in many hospitals. If your child has ever spent the night in a hospital, chances are your child was given liquid Tylenol at night.
Liquid Tylenol is a "standing order" on many pediatric floors. A standing order is a permanent order written by a physician that covers every child admitted to the floor.
Most nurses don't inform parents about the liquid Tylenol standing order unless they are asked directly. Liquid Tylenol is given PRN to reduce fever and to relieve pain. But the standing order is mainly used for sleep.
It is up to the parents to ask the nurses if there are any liquid Tylenol standing orders and whether or not they want their child to receive it.
Would you rather your child be given liquid Tylenol or Gummy Bears with Melatonin?