Three workers at an Illinois daycare center were arrested after they allegedly admitted to giving young children melatonin-laced gummy bears, without their parents' permission, to get them to calm down before their nap time, according to several reports Monday.

The three employees accused of the crime at the Des Plaines-based Kiddie Junction daycare were charged with two counts of endangering the life or health of a child and two counts of battery each, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"This is just a horrible case of bad judgment," Des Plaines Police Chief William Kushner said.

Des Plaines police said officers were called to the Kiddie Junction Daycare Center at 1619 E. Oakton St. last Friday afternoon.

Melatonin is said to be a synthetic form of a naturally occurring hormone in a person’s body, produced by the pineal, which regulates circadian rhythms, that controls the body's sleep cycle.

According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Pediatric Child Health, melatonin has been increasingly prescribed for children with sleep disorders; however, it has never undergone formal safety testing and has shown "profound effects" on the cardiovascular, reproductive, and immune systems of animals.

The study's author University of Adelaide Professor David Kennaway, who spent four decades studying melatonin, explained its use to treat sleep disorders among children as "alarming."

"The word 'safe' is used very freely and loosely with this drug, but there have been no rigorous, long-term safety studies of the use of melatonin to treat sleep disorders in children and adolescents," Kennaway said.

Gummy Bears In this representational image, a marijuana-infused sour gummy bear candy (L) is shown next to a regular one at right in a photo illustration in Golden, Colorado, Oct. 17, 2014. Photo: REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The daycare center's management alerted the authorities after learning that one of the teachers was distributing gummies that contained the sleep-inducing chemical melatonin to her class of two-year-olds, without parental authorization, Des Plaines police Cmdr. Christopher Mierzwa said. 

The children’s parents were not aware their kids were being given the melatonin-laced gummies, he added.

As the authorities investigated further, they learned two other teachers were also involved and were giving the gummies to a classroom of 12 children aged two to three years, Mierzwa said.

“Allegedly, this was done in an effort to calm them down before nap time,” Des Plaines Police said Monday.

The employees, who were taken into custody, claimed they did not think there was anything wrong with giving the children the sleep-inducing chemical because it is an over-the-counter supplement.

“You can’t distribute that without the parents being told,” Mierzwa said. “(The teachers) didn’t know if the child was allergic to melatonin.”

Authorities contacted the parents of every child who was given melatonin. None said their kids was sickened by the supplement, although a few mentioned their children recently seemed to be groggy while being picked up from the daycare. 

After police consulted with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, the teachers were identified as Kristen Lauletta, 32, of Niles; Jessica Heyse, 19, of Des Plaines; and Ashley Helfenbein, 25, of Chicago, Mierzwa said, according to CBS Local in Chicago.

The three employees are scheduled to appear in court April 4.