Melatonin and Comorbidities in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Curr Dev Disord Rep. 2018 ;5(3):197-206. Epub 2018 Aug 9. PMID: 30148039
Purpose of Review: Melatonin is used to treat sleep difficulties associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There are growing evidence that melatonin could have an effect on other symptoms than sleep, such as anxiety, depression, pain, and gastrointestinal dysfunctions. Interestingly, these symptoms frequently are found as comorbid conditions in individuals with ASD. We aimed to highlight the potential effect of melatonin on these symptoms.
Recent Findings: Animal and human studies show that melatonin reduces anxiety. Regarding the effect of melatonin on pain, animal studies are promising, but results remain heterogeneous in humans. Both animal and human studies have found that melatonin can have a positive effect on gastrointestinal dysfunction.
Summary: Melatonin has the potential to act on a wide variety of symptoms associated with ASD. However, other than sleep difficulties, no studies exist on melatonin as a treatment for ASD comorbid conditions. Such investigations should be on the research agenda because melatonin could improve a multitude of ASD comorbidities and, consequently, improve well-being.