Three day care workers were arrested for allegedly administering melatonin-laced gummy bears to the 2-year-old children in their care in Illinois on Friday — a potentially dangerous decision.
“This is just a horrible case of bad judgment,” Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner told CBS Chicago.
Legal ramifications of allegedly drugging children without parental permission aside, there’s very little data on how melatonin affects children as it is marketed toward and mostly used by adults, Business Insider reported. Melatonin is a supplement sold over the counter, so it may seem harmless, but the supplement industry is widely unregulated. In some “all natural” melatonin products, a study published by the National Institutes of Health revealed that the amounts of the hormone in these pills ranges from zero to nearly five times the advertised total.
Melatonin is naturally produced by the body to begin the process of sleeping, typically around the same time each day. When the day care workers allegedly handed out the hormone to the toddlers at naptime, it essentially set them up for a ruined bedtime because their bodies would have believed that the evening had already passed earlier in the day.
At the day care, police discovered that there were only four gummies left in a bottle that advertised 120 pieces.
“Allegedly, this was done in an effort to calm them down before nap time,” the Des Plaines Police said in a statement.
The three teachers were taken into custody where they allegedly admitted to distributing the drug, CBS reported. They were each charged with two counts of child endangerment and two counts of battery.
“Fortunately, no child was seriously injured that we know of at this point,” Kushner said. “It’s limited to the one classroom.”
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