Restless legs syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder in children and adolescents

Semin Pediatr Neurol. 2008 Jun;15(2):91-9. doi: 10.1016/j.spen.2008.03.005.


Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) has been recognized as a common and treatable neurologic disorder in adults for some time, but the occurrence of RLS in children and adolescents has seen relatively delayed acceptance. A large, population-based study has recently reported a 1.9% and 2% prevalence of RLS in children and adolescents, respectively. RLS in children is closely associated with periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), and symptoms of both may range from mild to severe. An early, accurate diagnosis of RLS or PLMD provides substantial benefits to an individual's quality of life, especially in cases of poor-sleep related intellectual or emotional dysfunction. Treatment plans should use emerging knowledge of how RLS and PLMD affect children and adolescents to correctly identify these disorders and aim to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Best-fitting therapy will consider severity of symptoms, comorbid conditions, and phenotypic variables. Promising progress has been made in understanding the genetic components of RLS as well as the role of iron deficiency in exacerbating symptoms. A review of current research on RLS and PLMD in children and adolescents is presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Nocturnal Myoclonus Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Nocturnal Myoclonus Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Nocturnal Myoclonus Syndrome / therapy
  • Prevalence
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / therapy