The New York Post runs this scary headline this morning:

"Day Care Workers Charged with Giving Kids Melatonin-Laced Gummy Bears"

First of all, yes, parents of children who attended this daycare certainly have a right to be irritated, even upset, with the naptime strategy employed by these daycare workers. But let's consider the headline and the use of the word "laced."

These gummy bears weren't "laced" with drugs. These women didn't soak these gummies in liquid opioids or dip them in crushed Ambien tablets before handing them to the kids. These are gummy melatonin tablets–which are manufactured to contain a small dose of melatonin and are labeled as such. Parents use these gummies regularly as a natural and safe sleep aids for children. I give my kids melatonin gummy bears on occasion–particularly on nights where there's been an evening event (Boy Scouts, a basketball game, or a late evening at friend’s house) and I need them to wind down. 

Melatonin isn't some sort of hard drug. It's a naturally occurring hormone that everyone has in their body that helps control the internal body clock. In short, it helps us calm down at night so eventually we'll go to bed.

According to WebMD, melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid- to late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then drop in the early morning hours. Now the melatonin in these gummy bears is a synthetic form of this natural hormone but it acts much the same as natural melatonin. And there seems to be a good amount of scientific evidence that melatonin shortens the time it takes kids to fall asleep although it doesn't help them stay asleep.

According to the Post, the workers, who are 19, 25 and 32, “… face charges of endangering the life or health of a child and battery.” This seems extreme and unnecessary. I agree that they should have checked with parents and perhaps these women should lose their their jobs and even licenses but these women didn't dose kids with a dangerous drug or slip some sort of sleeping pill into their midday milk, as that headline suggests.