Doctors fear hormone is being overprescribed despite little evidence of its effectiveness

Tens of thousands of children and young people are being given the hormone melatonin to help them sleep, prompting concern that the medicine is being handed out too readily with little evidence of its long-term effectiveness or safety.

Melatonin, which is produced naturally by the body in dark environments to help sleep preparations, has been authorised for use by people aged over 55. It has been hailed as a less addictive alternative to insomnia drug treatments.

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