Three preschool staff in Des Plaines, Indiana are under indictment after serving melatonin gummies to small children under their care. The three women administered the supplement to toddlers before naptime, hoping to force the children to fall asleep and make their own jobs easier. One of the women was caught by management, leading to an investigation that implicated two other staff.
Though melatonin is available over the counter, so are a number of other potentially dangerous substances, including acetaminophen and aspirin. Melatonin is well-tolerated in most adults, with only mild side effects, but the effects on children are less documented. This is particularly problematic because parents were not aware of the dosing, meaning than any side effects experienced by the children would have been interpreted as symptoms of other diseases.
Melatonin can cause a variety of side effects, including headache, depression, and dizziness. Of particular concern is the risk of interfering with normal development in children, particularly when taken over periods of time. Studies are still being performed to determine the full extent of these effects, but melatonin has not been established as safe for use with child sleeping disorders. These children, none of whom were diagnosed with disorders of any kind, could be even more vulnerable. For these women to have exposed toddlers to a dangerous substance is terrifying.
Trusting others with your children is always difficult, and these cases make clear that there are too many adults willing to risk the health and safety of children for convenience. If your child has been injured in a preschool environment, it is important you hold all the adults responsible for their actions and inactions that put children at risk. Please contact an experienced attorney to evaluate your case and advise you on how to proceed.