Physician Prescribing Habits for Pediatric Insomnia

Pediatric insomnia is not an issue that many people are aware of because it is not as prevalent as insomnia among adults. Nevertheless, safe and effective interventions are necessary in treating pediatric insomnia because if unaddressed, pediatric insomnia can lead to many negative effects for children and their families.

This article describes the common practice of physicians prescribing over the counter and prescription medications for children with pediatric insomnia. A study was done in Ontario, Canada surveying various pediatricians and family physicians on the amount of formal training they had on pediatric sleep disorders and whether or not they prescribed OTC or prescription medications to children with sleep problems. The results of this study showed that over a six month interval, 89% and 66% of the physicians recommended OTC and prescription medications, respectively, to children with insomnia and only 20% of the physicians had received formal training on pediatric sleep disorders. Furthermore, 30% of the physicians surveyed recommended OTC and prescription medications to otherwise healthy children with sleep problems.

This study demonstrates that many physicians prescribe medications to children with sleep problems but most physicians do not even have the formal training to do so. In this day and age, healthcare professionals often turn to pharmacotherapy to solve health related issues. While medications are important interventions, it is vital that healthcare professionals be adequately educated and trained on the subject at hand before making any recommendations. Over the counter and prescription medications should not be taken lightly, especially among children, because any medication has the potential to be harmful and to produce unknown adverse side effects.

Pediatric insomnia should be adequately studied among physicians because effective interventions can prevent the misuse of OTC and prescription medications and the development of future mental and psychosocial issues among children.

Bock DE, Roach-Fox E, Seabrook JA, et al. Sleep-promoting medications in children: physician prescribing habits in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. Elsevier B.V. 2016; 10.003.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26847974