Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Melatonin Effective for Sleep Problems in Autistic Children

A new study printed in the April edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that melatonin at 3mg was effective at resolving sleep issues in some autism-spectrum children. This may not be new information for some of you, but it does help to confirm what many of us in the biomedical field have known for years about melatonin - that it can be a safe and effective sleep remedy - Dr. Woeller

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Apr 20 - Three milligrams of melatonin at bedtime can effectively treat sleep problems in children with autistic spectrum disorder or fragile X syndrome or both, according to a study reported in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

"Melatonin can be considered a safe and effective pharmacologic treatment in addition to behavior therapies and sleep hygiene practices for the management of sleep problems in children with autistic spectrum disorder and fragile X syndrome," the study team concludes.

Sleep problems are reported in up to 89% of children with autism and 77% of children with fragile X syndrome, Dr. Beth L. Goodlin-Jones, of the Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (M.I.N.D.) Institute at the University of California Davis Health System in Sacramento, and colleagues note in their report.

In a 4-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, 18 children, ranging in age from 2 to 15 years, with autistic spectrum disorder and/or fragile X syndrome took either melatonin (3 mg) or placebo nightly for 2 weeks and then crossed over to the alternate treatment for 2 weeks.

Data on 12 children who completed the study showed that treatment with melatonin was associated with significant improvements in total night sleep durations, sleep latency times, and sleep-onset times. Specifically, Dr. Goodlin-Jones and colleagues report, "Mean night sleep duration was longer on melatonin than placebo by 21 minutes (p = 0.02), sleep-onset latency was shorter by 28 minutes (p = 0.0001), and sleep-onset time was earlier by 42 minutes (p = 0.02)."

"Sleep onset problems at the beginning of the night are very troublesome for children and their families," Dr. Goodlin-Jones noted in a prepared statement accompanying the study. "Sometimes children may take one to two hours to fall asleep and often they disrupt the household during this time."

"The results of this study," she and her colleagues conclude, "suggest that melatonin is an effective treatment for sleep problems in children with autistic spectrum disorder and fragile X syndrome, a finding that is consistent with previous studies of children with autistic spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities."

2 comments:

UnauthorizedBiography said...

This was a 4 week pilot study. The conclusions hold little, if any clinical relevance. A study evaluating long term use of melatonin in these patients would provide a more clinically relevant conclusion. Also, although the statistical methods used in the trial were appropriate they were still shaky at best. They used nonparametric analysis because the data was not normally distributed but time to sleep onset was deemed significant by both nonparametric and parametric analysis of the data. How is that possible with a sample size of 12...

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