Three Illinois day care workers are accused of giving 2-year-olds melatonin gummy bears to make them sleepy for nap time.
Kristen Lauletta, 32, Jessica Heyse, 19, and Ashley Helfenbein, 25, have been arrested and each charged with two counts of battery and two counts of endangering the life of a child, according to police in Des Plaines, Ill.
Parents had not given permission for their kids to have melatonin, according to police who contacted the parents of every child in the day care center. The class had 12 children between the ages of 2 and 3, NBC Chicago reported.
Police didn't get any reports of children getting sick from the gummies, but a few parents reported their kids were groggy when they picked them up recently from day care, Des Plaines police Cmdr. Christopher Mierzwa told The Chicago Tribune.
“This is just a horrible case of bad judgment,” police chief William Kushner said, according to CBS Chicago.
A manager at Kiddie Junction Daycare called police to the center on Friday afternoon and told them one of the teachers had been handing out gummy bears laced with melatonin to her class of 2-year-olds without parents' permission.
According to CBS, police said there were four gummy bears left in a bottle of 120.
“Allegedly, this was done in an effort to calm them down before nap time,” police said in a statement on Monday.
Once in custody, the teachers allegedly admitted giving the gummy bears to the kids. They reportedly told police they didn't think they had done anything wrong because melatonin is an over-the-counter sleep aid.
“You can’t distribute that without the parents being told,” Mierzwa told the Tribune. The teachers "didn’t know if the child was allergic to melatonin.”
Neurologists who spoke with the Tribune said it's inappropriate and potentially dangerous to give melatonin to children without their parent's consent.
According to The New York Daily News, the state Department of Children and Family Services has launched its own investigation into what happened. The center reportedly had no prior violations.
The three women are due in court on April 4.