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Use and Effectiveness of Sleep Medications by Parent Report in Individuals with Williams Syndrome

Martens, Marilee A. PhD*,†; Seyfer, Daisha L. MD; Andridge, Rebecca R. PhD§; Coury, Daniel L. MD

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: November/December 2017 - Volume 38 - Issue 9 - p 765–771
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000503
Original Articles

Objective: Sleep disorders are common in individuals with Williams syndrome (WS), and sleep disturbance has a significant negative effect on attention, learning, and behavior. The use of sleep-inducing medicine in individuals with WS has not been widely investigated. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use and effectiveness of sleep medications among a large sample of individuals with WS by parent survey.

Methods: A survey of the use and effectiveness of sleep medications was completed by 513 (of 2846) members of the Williams Syndrome Association. The online survey asked for the age at initiation, degree of effectiveness (helpful, somewhat helpful, and not helpful), and side effects.

Results: One hundred thirty participants (25%) indicated that their family member with WS had taken medication to help with sleep. Melatonin was the most commonly reported medication taken for sleep, with 91% of parents reporting that it was “helpful” or “somewhat helpful” for their child with WS. Those who reported taking melatonin reported very few, if any, side effects.

Conclusion: This parent-completed survey is a preliminary study showing the positive benefit of melatonin for individuals with WS who have disrupted sleep. The findings support the need for further study of the use of melatonin, in addition to behavioral sleep aids, given evidence that sleep disturbance negatively influences cognition and behavior.

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*The Nisonger Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH;

Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University at Newark, Newark, OH;

Department of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, Sanford Children's Specialty Clinic, Sioux Falls, SD;

§Division of Biostatistics, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH;

Department of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH.

Address for reprints: Marilee A. Martens, PhD, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University-Newark, 2012 Founders Hall, 1179 University Dr, Newark, OH 43055; e-mail:

Supported by the Nisonger Center at The Ohio State University and Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Received February , 2017

Accepted July , 2017

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