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Children Become Sick After Eating Melatonin-Laced Brownies

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW BEDFORD, Mass.) -- Two Massachusetts towns want to ban Lazy Cakes, brownies that contain melatonin, following reports that they made children sick.

A 2-year-old boy from Arizona had to be hospitalized after he took a few bites of a relative's Lazy Cakes, and fell into a deep sleep.

Melatonin is a brain hormone that controls the body's sleep-wake cycle.  It's relatively safe for adults, but if children consume too much of it they can fall into a sleep so deep that it's difficult to wake them.

Lazy Cakes contain about eight milligrams of melatonin, and experts say a typical dose for many children is about .3 milligrams, and adults don't generally consume nearly the amount present in the brownies.

The mayors of the Massachusetts towns of Fall River and nearby New Bedford want to ban sales of Lazy Cakes, saying the product's packaging -- which includes a cartoon brownie lounging on a bright-purple background -- is too appealing to children.  Baked World/HBB, the Memphis maker of Lazy Cakes, emphasizes that the label states the product is for adults only.

"Most melatonin overdoses in children are not necessarily life-threatening, but they are associated with not only deep sleep but also with nausea, gastrointestinal problems, changes in mood, headaches and other effects," said Dr. Steven Lipshultz, executive dean for children's health at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.

Children consuming too much melatonin is a documented problem.  According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, melatonin accounts for more calls to poison centers than any other herb or supplement, and most of the calls involve children.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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