Los Trastornos del Sueño en las personas con un Trastorno del Espectro del Autismo (TEA) según la literatura científica afectan entre el 50 y el 80% de la población pediátrica con TEA, tal y como ya informamos en el artículo “Estableciendo patrones de sueño en niños con Trastornos del Espectro del Autismo”.
Este tipo de trastornos del sueño puede empeorar las propias conductas disruptivas del autismo, tales como: irritabilidad, conductas repetitivas, falta de atención, problemas en las conductas sociales,…
Este tipo de trastornos no solo afectan a niños, también a jóvenes y adultos. Desde hace ya algún tiempo se habla de la posibilidad del uso de Melatonina como un sistema para controlar esta problemática.
El pasado día 10 de Diciembre se publicó un estudio piloto titulado “Melatonin for Sleep in Children with Autism: A Controlled Trial Examining Dose, Tolerability, and Outcomes” donde se ha realizado una primera evaluación sobre el uso de Melatonina como un procedimiento eficaz para combatir los trastornos del sueño en personas con un Trastorno del Espectro del Autismo.
En los últimos años, la melatonina, también conocida como “hormona del sueño”, se ha vuelto muy popular entre las familias y personas afectadas por TEA, dado el relativamente bajo costo de los suplementos de melatonina y su aparente seguridad.
Pero los estudios existentes eran o de baja calidad, o con una muestra muy pequeña o sencillamente no incluían a niños con TEA.
Para este primer estudio piloto, el equipo de Beth Malow seleccionó a 24 niños de entre 3 y 9 años (4 féminas y 20 varones) con un diagnóstico confirmado de TEA. Ninguno de ellos tomaba medicamentos psicotrópicos.
A todos los niños se les administró melatonina (en diferentes dosis) para comprobar la eficacia de este compuesto como regulador del sueño. Los principales objetivos del estudio estaban enfocados en:
- Determinar cual es la dosis más efectiva
- Evaluar la rapidez en la mejora del sueño en función de la dosis
- Recoger datos de seguridad y tolerabilidad de una manera sistemática
- Definir la viabilidad de los datos de actigrafía como una medida de validación del resultado
- Evaluar la capacidad de datos de los cuestionarios para detectar el cambio con una intervención de 14 semanas en esta población
Los 24 niños participantes en el estudio presentaron mejorías en el sueño. Tan solo un niño presentó efectos adversos leves relacionados con el preparado de melatonina en forma de heces disgregadas.
El resto toleraron bien el preparado. Se monitorizó a los participantes del estudio durante 17 semanas, y a partir de la primera semana de administración del preparado ya se observaron mejoras significativas. La dosis varió de 1 a 6 mg, dado que uno de los propósitos era definir la dosis más efectiva.
Los despertares nocturnos desaparecieron y se disminuyó sensiblemente el retraso para conciliar el sueño. Así mismo se observó una disminución de estereotipias, hiperactividad, conductas compulsivas y tensión emocional en los niños participantes.
A pesar de los excelentes resultados de este estudio piloto, la administración de Melatonina debe de estar bajo control médico.
Los trastornos del sueño pueden estar provocados por muchos factores, por ese motivo es importante que la administración de este preparado se haga tan solo bajo un control médico, de forma que previamente se hayan descartado otros posibles factores que pudiesen afectar a la calidad del sueño del niño.
Este estudio se ha basado en niños, por tanto este ensayo debe de replicarse en adolescentes, jóvenes y adultos.
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