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Is melatonin safe to use long term in children with neurodevelopmental disorders?
  1. Rebecca Amy Dalrymple1,
  2. Charlotte Margaret Wright2
  1. 1Community Child Health, The New Gorbals Health and Care Centre, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2Department of Child Health, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rebecca Amy Dalrymple, Community Child Health, The New Gorbals Health and Care Centre, Glasgow, Glasgow, UK; rebecca.dalrymple{at}

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A boy of preschool age with autism and early developmental impairment is having severely disrupted sleep, taking 2–3 hours to fall asleep and several wakenings overnight. His parents are desperate for help as the whole family is exhausted. Your team has worked extensively with the family to optimise his sleep routine with minimal improvement. You now feel that he would benefit from melatonin. His parents ask you if there are any long-term effects of taking melatonin.

Structured clinical question

In children with neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodisability (patient), what are the long-term side effects (outcome) of melatonin (intervention) to treat disordered sleep?


All searches were performed on 4 January 2024.

There was no Cochrane review covering melatonin use for neurodevelopmental disorders. There were several National institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines related to melatonin use in our population, but none looked at the question of long-term side effects.

Inclusion criteria

EMBASE Search: (child* or P?ediatric) AND ((neurodevelopment* or intellectual disability or learning disability or autism) AND (adverse reaction* or toxicity or safety or interaction*) AND (Melatonin (Title))

Inclusion criteria was original research, experimental or observational studies, with greater than 2 years follow-up, children and young people with neurodevelopmental disorders as the participants, full text articles available, in English language. 73 results, 5 eligible for …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.