Narcolepsy in prepubertal children

Ann Neurol. 1998 Jan;43(1):135-42. doi: 10.1002/ana.410430125.


Narcolepsy was diagnosed in 51 children (29 boys). The age range was 2.1 to 11.8 years (mean, 7.9 +/- 3.1 years). A mean of three referrals was made before narcolepsy was considered. In 10 children, cataplexy was the presenting symptom. Thirty-eight children acknowledged sleep paralysis and 30 acknowledged hypnagogic hallucinations. All children had sleep studies; 31 exhibited rapid eye movement at sleep onset. The mean sleep latency was 1.5 minutes +/- 39 seconds on the Multiple Sleep Latency Test. All children had at least two sleep-onset rapid eye movement sleep episodes in this test. Forty-six children were HLA class II-positive for DQw6, and 45 were also positive for DRw15. Thirty (65%) families refused referrals to support and counseling groups. Teachers often refused to acknowledge a medical problem. During follow-up, all children presented at least once with depressive symptoms in reaction to their syndrome. Narcolepsy should be considered when evaluating children with behavioral and depressive symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Cataplexy / diagnosis
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / etiology
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Narcolepsy / diagnosis
  • Narcolepsy / drug therapy
  • Narcolepsy / physiopathology*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Patient Compliance
  • Polysomnography
  • Prospective Studies
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep, REM / physiology