TOO much smartphone use is fuelling a record demand for sleeping pills for children.
Doctors doled out almost half a million prescriptions last year for youngsters who can’t switch off.
The allocation of drugs to under-16s has rocketed from 339,848 in 2016 to 487,054 last year — an increase of 43 per cent, official figures reveal.
Kids aged ten were most often given the pills last year, with 53,573 prescriptions — more than 1,000 a week — said the NHS Business Services Authority.
Experts have urged doctors to seek alternatives to pills and NHS guidelines state GPs should not normally prescribe sleep medication to children unless it is for the short-term.
But they also say most of the drugs given to children are lower strength versions.
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Vicki Dawson, chief executive of The Children’s Sleep Charity, said: “When children don’t sleep well it impacts on their ability to meet their full potential and the whole family unit.
“There are many reasons why more and more children and young people are not sleeping well, from excessive screen time, to inconsistent bedtimes and inadequate bedtime routines.”
A spokesman for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said: “It is always best to first look at behavioural approaches to children’s sleep problems before going down the route of prescribing.”
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