Restless Legs Syndrome in Children


Restless Legs Syndrome in Children, Pediatric Restless Leg Syndrome

  • Epidemiology
  1. Prevalence: 2 to 4% in children (more common in teens)
  • Pathophysiology
  1. Multifactorial (including Iron Deficiency, heredity)
  2. CNS Dopamine regulation appears to play a role
  • Symptoms
  1. See Restless Leg Syndrome
  2. Urge to move legs and leg discomfort (may be difficult for a child to express)
  • Associated Conditions
  • Diagnosis
  • Clinical
  1. Obtain history in words of child if possible
  2. Characteristics
    1. Urge to move legs due to unpleasant or uncomfortable Sensation
    2. Examples: "want to kick", "bugs crawling", "tingly"
  3. Provocative
    1. Sensation worsens or begins with rest (e.g. inactivity, lying down, sitting)
  4. Palliative
    1. Improves or resolves with activity (e.g. Stretching, walking)
  5. Timing
    1. Onset primarily at night
  6. Associated
    1. Impaired sleep or daytime functioning (e.g. affected school work)
  7. References
    1. Allen (2014) Sleep Med 15(8): 860-73 [PubMed]
  • Labs
  1. Serum Ferritin
    1. Single, reasonable test screening for Iron Deficiency Anemia
    2. May be falsely elevated due to function as an acute phase reactant
  • Diagnostics
  1. Polysomnogram (Sleep Study)
    1. Not required for diagnosis (clinical criteria as below are sufficient)
    2. May be needed in unclear cases (especially is too young to communicate a history)
    3. Periodic Limb Movements 5 or more per hour during Polysomnogram
  • Differential Diagnosis
  • Management
  1. Avoid Caffeine
  2. Avoid Tobacco (Nicotine)
  3. Avoid Alcohol
  4. Avoid prolonged inactivity during the daytime
    1. Encourage activity and Exercise
  5. Treat Iron Deficiency Anemia
    1. Iron Replacement indicated for Serum Ferritin <50 mcg/L
    2. Recheck Serum Ferritin again in 3 months
    3. Kryger (2002) Sleep Med 3(2): 127-32 [PubMed]
  6. Avoid medications that provoke Restless Legs Syndrome
    1. See Restless Legs Syndrome
    2. Antihistamines (e.g. Diphenhydramine)
    3. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
    4. Tricyclic Antidepressants
    5. Metoclopramide (Reglan)
  7. Medications
    1. No medications are approved in children for Restless Legs Syndrome
    2. Gabapentin (Neurontin) has been used in severe cases
  • Complications
  1. Sleep deprivation and secondary negative impact on behavior, mood, attention and cognition