About 10,000 infants are diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is caused by brain damage. Between 35% -50% of all children with CP has some level of mental retardation. The children may have learning disabilities and vision, speech, hearing, or language problems. Children with CP may also suffer from loss or impairment of motor function that affects body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. It can also impact fine motor skills, gross motor skills and oral motor functioning. The symptoms of CP are seizures, irritability, jitteriness, feeding and respiratory problems, lethargy, and coma depending on the severity. Congenital cerebral palsy results from brain injury during a baby's development in the womb.
Scientists have concluded that sleep disorders are more frequent in children with CP than in typically developing children with a prevalence varying from 19 to 63%. Different feature such as motor or cognitive impairment, behavioral problems or epilepsy are important risk factors for the development of sleep disorders. Melatonin (N-acetyl-5- methoxytryptamine), a tryptophan-derived molecule, is a chronobiotic drug produced by the pineal gland essential for the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin has been mainly used in circadian rhythm disorders in adults such as sleep disturbances, jet lag, sleep-wake cycle disturbances in blind people and shift workers. Recently it has been proposed in children with sleep disturbances confirming its role in improving sleep. It is considered safe and well tolerated with a long term effectiveness in improving sleep.
A study conducted by Domenico M. Romeo et al. of Catholic University, Italy, used melatonin in children with CP with different motor impairment and sleep disorders, and the children were assessed using questionnaires and diaries completed by parents and by children. Domenico M. Romeo et al. observed an improvement of quality and quantity of sleep in most of cases, especially in sleep latency and night time sleep duration, with no side effects even in those children with active epilepsy.