URBANA, Ill. -- About 2% of children and adolescents in the U.S. and United Kingdom have restless legs syndrome, estimated an international team on the basis of a large survey.
URBANA, Ill., Aug. 24 -- About 2% of children and adolescents in the U.S. and United Kingdom have restless legs syndrome, estimated an international team on the basis of a large survey.
In the survey of more than 10,000 families in the two nations. 1.9% of those ages eight through 11 and 2% of those ages 12 through 17 had "definite" RLS, Daniel Picchietti, M.D., of the University of Illinois, and colleagues, reported in the August issue of Pediatrics.
Of those, about a quarter to a half reported moderately or severely distressing symptoms that occurred at least twice a week, the researchers found.
Dr. Picchietti said the condition appears to occur more frequently than diabetes and epilepsy, at less than 1% and about 0.05%, respectively.
In adults, the syndrome defined by four characteristics, the researchers noted:
There are two pediatric definitions for definite RLS, both more restrictive than the adult definition.
Both require all four adult characteristics and either a description in the child's own words consistent with leg discomfort or two of the following: disturbed sleep, a parent with RLS, or a periodic limb movements of sleep index of five or greater on polysomnography.
Using those definitions, the researcher constructed a survey questionnaire designed to identify RLS children, while discounting such common pains as sore muscles and positional discomfort.
From a large market-research pool in the two nations, they enrolled 11,582 families who had a child in the target range and were initially unaware of the nature of the questions.
Of those, 10,523 completed the survey, including 4,325 with a child ages eight through 11 and 6,198 with a child ages 12 though 17.
Analysis of the results suggested that 81 of the younger group (1.9%) met the criteria for definite RLS, as did 125 of the adolescents (2%), the researchers said.
There were no significant differences on the basis of the sex of the children, the researchers found - a surprise, because in adults the syndrome is usually skewed two-to-one toward females.
Sleep disturbance was reported by 69.4% of the children and adolescents with RLS, compared with 39.6% of those without symptoms, a difference that was significant at P