Drugs Often Used for Insomnia in Kids
Doctors Issue Drugs Often at Parents' Request, but Experts Question Safety
The study findings concern at least one expert who was not involved in the study. He tells WebMD that while there are good reasons for medicating children to help them to sleep, it should be done only after a thorough examination into possible causes -- and not for the convenience of parents or to treat behavior problems.
"Medication is rarely indicated when children have a hard time falling asleep," says Stephen Sheldon, DO, FAAP, medical director of the Sleep Medicine Center at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago and a spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "And when it is, being used to control behavior is probably not the right reason.
"Under certain circumstances, when traveling across many time zones, it may be appropriate to change the sleep-wake cycle to prevent jet lag. But those and other reasons are special circumstances, and as with anything else, caution needs to be used," Sheldon tells WebMD. "If there is a good medical indication for giving medication, then OK. But even over-the-counter medications can have serious side effects. And using drugs to control behavior or to allow parents to get some sleep may not be appropriate. There are special-needs children who have difficulty on a regular basis getting to sleep because of autism or ADHD, and they should be seen by a specialist. But for an otherwise normal child, it's rare they need medication."