Day care workers charged with giving kids gummy bears containing - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Day care workers charged with giving kids gummy bears containing sleep aid


Police in suburban Chicago say three day care workers are charged with giving children gummy bears containing the sleep aid melatonin.

Des Plaines police said Monday that officers were called to Kiddie Junction on Friday. Police said the children were given the melatonin “in an effort to calm them down before nap time.” Authorities say parents hadn’t given permission for their children to receive the melatonin.

Three workers face charges of endangering the life or health of a child and battery, including 25-year-old Ashley Helfenbein of Chicago, 19-year-old Jessica Heyse of Des Plaines and 32-year-old Kristen Lauletta of Niles. They are due in court April 4.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the employees said they didn't think anything was wrong with giving the 2-year-olds melatonin because it is an over-the-counter supplement.

“You can’t distribute that without the parents being told,” Des Plaines police Cmdr. Christopher Mierzwa said. “(The teachers) didn’t know if the child was allergic to melatonin.”

Police contacted parents and no children were sickened, but some parents reported that their kids seemed groggy at pickup. 

Smita Patel, a neurologist, told the Chicago Tribune that melatonin generally isn't considered harmful, but can cause nightmares in some people. 

However, Anna Ivanenko, a neurologist and pediatric sleep specialist, said many other countries treat the sleep aid as a prescription drug and that giving it to children without telling their parents is “a very inappropriate and potentially dangerous act.”

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