Background: Narcolepsy typically begins between adolescence and early adulthood causing severe neuropsychiatric impairments, but few prevalence studies are available on adolescent narcoleptics. In the present study, we investigated the prevalence of narcolepsy-cataplexy in adolescents.
Methods: In total 20,407 students, aged 14-19 years, participated in this study. Ullanlinna Narcolepsy Scale (UNS) was applied to all subjects and those with a UNS score of > or =14 were contacted by phone for semi-structured interview. Subjects then suspected of having narcolepsy participated in a laboratory investigation, which included polysomnography and HLA typing, or were interviewed in detail by telephone.
Results: Three subjects were finally diagnosed as narcolepsy with cataplexy and seven subjects might be diagnosed as narcolepsy without cataplexy. Among three narcoleptics with cataplexy, two subjects were HLA-DQB1*0602 and DRB1*1501 positive, but one subject had no test of HLA typing. The prevalence of narcolepsy with cataplexy in Korean adolescence was thus determined to be 0.015% (95% confidence interval = 0.0-0.0313%).
Conclusion: This epidemiologic study is the first of its type on adolescent narcolepsy to use the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, 2nd edition (ICSD-2) diagnostic criteria. Considering those cases with an onset after adolescence were not included, the prevalence of narcolepsy with cataplexy determined in the present study is comparable with that of other studies in adults.