Class-action lawsuit filed against Springfield Township daycare

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A daycare in Springfield Township, Ohio is being investigated and faces a class-action lawsuit after employees are alleged to have provided children with a sleep aid.

Parents received a letter urging them to call their doctors or The Poison Control Center, because their children may have been given the sleep aid Melatonin to help them take their afternoon naps.

Pastor Shelly Hendricks with the Covenant Apostolic Church says employees of the daycare gave kids in their care Melatonin. These employees have since been fired from the daycare staff.

Hendricks also defended his church's daycare and said it is safe and will remain open.

"We have notified the parents of all of our children about this matter," Hendricks said.

But now a parent, Joseph Coleman, has filed a class-action lawsuit against Covenant Apostolic, on behalf of all the children who may have been exposed to Melatonin, claiming the kids were suffering from a variety of symptoms.

"Parents should obviously be asking if this is OK and be giving consent to do this and only a medical professional administering it or telling them to administer it," said Dr. Melissa DelBello, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at The University Of Cincinnati.

DelBello explained our bodies produce Melatonin naturally to regulate our sleep-wake cycles.

"There's some indication that possibly the doses being administered in supplements are ten times the doses of naturally occurring Melatonin," DelBello said.

"If you're causing children to artificially take naps when they don't necessarily need to take naps, they might not be able to have their normal sleep-wake cycle and lead to a sleep disorder ultimately," said DelBello."Immediately it's not going to stay in the body, but the consequences of it might."

DelBello said it depends on how much Melatonin was given and for how long.

"Our daycare program remains open and operational," Pastor Hendricks said. "The police are satisfied our daycare is being run properly and safely."

Hendricks said there has never been a problem like this in the five and a half years the daycare has been open. He says any decision to file criminal charges will be up to the prosecutor's office.

A spokeswoman at the prosecutor's office, Julie Wilson, told FOX19 she has never seen a case like this in all of her 20 plus years in the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office. So far, no charges have been filed against either of the two fired employees in this case.

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