Melatonin-Laced "Lazy Cakes" Put Kids To Sleep

By x 05/18/11

Too much melatonin in snacks and cold drinks can cause nausea, headaches, and deep sleep in children.

First there was the furor over Four Loko, the heavily-caffeinaated, high-alcohol beer that was banned across the nation when dozens of college kids had to be hospitalized after over-indulging on the drink. Now the nation is up in arms over Lazy Cakes,  a brand of of brownies laced with Melatonin that seems to have an especially intense impact on kids. Last month, after a two-year old Arizona toddler fell into a near-coma after gobbling up a bunch of the sleep-inducing brownies,  two Massachusetts municipalities moved to ban the sleepy treats.  Dozens of other towns across the country are now following suit. It turns out that Lazy Cakes—and several popular soft drinks marketed by the same company—contain about 8  milligrams of melatonin, a chemical compound that regulates the body’s diurnal sleep/wake cycle. That’s more than children need, and evidently enough to occasionally put them under. In response to the uproar, World/HBB, the company behind the Lazy Cakes brand, offered up  a pretty feeble excuse, pointing out that the label on the cakes clearly states that the treat is meant for adults only. Really? Brownie snack cakes? And bright purple soft drinks? No way those would ever fall into the hands of young children. So-called “relaxation drinks” like Unwind, iChill, and others are also coming under scrutiny. The beverages contain melatonin and valerian root, which both have sedative properties. The American Association of Poison Control Centers told ABC News that while melatonin overdoses in children are common, they are not generally life-threatening.

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