Study objectives: To explore impairments in social functioning in children with narcolepsy compared to healthy children.
Methods: Parents of 53 pediatric patients with narcolepsy type 1 and 64 matched healthy children completed the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) and the Child Behavior Checklist 6-18 (CBCL 6-18).
Results: Patients scored significantly higher on the total score of the SRS (median 56, interquartile range [IQR] 23.5) compared to controls (median 44.5, IQR 8.5, U = 797.0, p < 0.001). Patients also scored higher on the sum of the CBCL 6-18 subscales indicative of social functioning (Withdrawn/Depressed, Social Problems, and Thought Problems; median 183, IQR 30.5) compared to controls (median 155, IQR 13, U = 500.0, p < 0.001). A total of 24 patients (45.3%) reported at least mild-to-moderate difficulties in social functioning compared to seven controls (10.9%, χ2 = 17.165, p < 0.001). Eleven patients (20.8%) and only one control (1.6%) had T scores above 75, which points to severely impaired social functioning (χ2 = 11.602, p = 0.001). Within the patient group, girls reported mild-to-moderate difficulties in social functioning significantly more often compared to boys on the SRS (77.8% versus 28.6%, χ2 = 17.560, p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Impaired social functioning is common in children with narcolepsy type 1, especially in girls. Questionnaires such as the SRS and the CBCL 6-18 may help in early detection of social problems in pediatric narcolepsy. Recognition of these problems could be valuable in the management of young people with narcolepsy.