May 17th, 2011

‘Relaxation' brownies send kids to the hospital

MSNBC

Two Massachusetts towns are moving to ban sales of a “relaxation” brownie named Lazy Cakes, laced with melatonin and sold in food markets, after children who ate them required hospitalization.

The mellowing chocolate treats, which sell for $3 to $5 at food stores and some night clubs, are legal but contain nearly 8 milligrams of the supplemental sleep aid, which is about 25 times the usual amount prescribed for adults.

Melatonin is a hormone produced naturally by the body and standard doses in the Unites States, where it is available over the counter, and in Europe, where a prescription is typically required, range from 0.3 mg to 3 mg.

Considered a dietary supplement rather than a drug, melatonin is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Doctors say an adult dosage could be dangerous to a child, effectively acting as a strong drug akin to Valium that can cause extreme drowsiness.

Reports have emerged of youngsters who sampled Lazy Cakes and were rushed to hospital emergency rooms, where it was extremely difficult to wake them up. In Arizona, a two-year-old boy given a few bites of a relative’s treat was hospitalized after becoming withdrawn and falling deeply asleep.

In the Massachusetts cities of New Bedford and nearby Fall River, efforts are underway to ban their sales, largely because of their appeal to children. Purple packaging features Lazy Larry, a cartoonish brownie with a big grin on its face.

New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang said he supports a statewide ban, at least until such products are federally regulated.

“It’s clear to me that a young child would find it attractive and tasty, and it’s got chemicals in it that aren’t appropriate for kids,” Lang said.

Read more: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43054125/ns/health-health_care/?ocid=twitter

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