Determinants of ferritin response to oral iron supplementation in children with sleep movement disorders

Sleep. 2020 Mar 12;43(3):zsz234. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsz234.


Study objectives: To identify children who respond to oral iron supplementation as evidenced by increased ferritin levels and to identify factors that correlate with improvement in ferritin levels in those who respond.

Methods: A retrospective chart review of the PLMS/RLS/RSD database at Seattle Children's Hospital was carried out. Data collected included nocturnal polysomnography parameters, age, sex, initial and follow-up ferritin level and date of collection, and presence of restless legs syndrome (RLS), periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS)/PLM disorder (PLMD), restless sleep disorder (RSD), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), neurologic, psychiatric, neurodevelopmental, or medical comorbidity. Oral iron therapy was evaluated by side effects (none; constipation; bad taste/nausea), subjective outcome in symptoms (resolved, improved, no change), and adherence to therapy (poor, fair, good).

Results: Seventy-seven children were included in this study of whom 42 were classified as responders (increase in ferritin of ≥10 µg/L) and 35 were nonresponders. Age and sex were not different between groups. Adherence was the only significant predictor of an increase in ferritin of ≥10 µg/L. Constipation was seen in 7.1% of responders vs. 45.8% of nonresponders. No change in symptoms was reported in 26.2% of responders vs. 71.4% in nonresponders. A significant correlation was found between treatment duration and ferritin level change in responders but not in nonresponders.

Conclusions: Side effects hinders adherence to oral iron supplementation in children. Responders to oral iron show improvement in ferritin levels and symptoms, while nonresponders show no improvement in ferritin levels despite a long-lasting treatment, at least in part of them.

Keywords: ferritin; oral Iron supplementation; periodic limb movement disorder; periodic limb movements of sleep; restless legs syndrome; restless sleep disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't