Treatment of pediatric restless legs syndrome

Adv Pharmacol. 2019;84:237-253. doi: 10.1016/bs.apha.2018.11.001. Epub 2018 Dec 18.


Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is not uncommon in children with an estimated prevalence of 2%. There is clear evidence that RLS affects quality of life, sleep, cognition and behavior in children and adults. Although the diagnosis of RLS can be challenging in young children, the International Restless Legs Study Group (IRLSSG) has published guidelines for diagnosis which include description of symptoms in the child's own words. Once the diagnosis is made, treatment options must be explored. It is commonly accepted that non-pharmacological interventions be recommended to all affected families. These include maintaining a consistent bedtime routine, establishing healthy eating habits and exercise, avoiding caffeine and other substances that can exacerbate RLS, and stretching before bedtime. Pharmacological interventions in children are challenged by the lack of solid data supporting effectiveness and long-term safety. Historically and based on pathophysiology, iron supplementation is the first line therapy in children. Recently intravenous iron supplementation has shown promising results, following studies in adults. Most studies in children on various pharmacological options follow a robust body of data previously published in adult patient with RLS, yet data in children remain scarce. This chapter will discuss both non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic treatment options for children with RLS.

Keywords: Ferritin; Pediatric RLS; RLS treatment; Restless legs syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Quality of Life
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Sleep


  • Iron