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Mayo Clinic finds restless legs syndrome in children linked to family history, iron deficiency

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A new Mayo Clinic study has for the first time established rates of restless legs syndrome in children, finding that almost 6 percent of children seen in Mayo"s sleep clinic have the disease. The study, published in this month's issue of Annals of Neurology, also notes that the most common risk factors for the disease in kids are family history of restless legs syndrome and iron deficiency.

"Restless legs syndrome is underdiagnosed in kids," says Suresh Kotagal, M.D., chair of Mayo Clinic pediatric neurology and a sleep specialist. "If you look at children with difficulty falling asleep, you'll see a fair number have restless legs. Thus far, there have been sporadic case reports, but nobody has studied a larger group of children, looking at children with insomnia complaints as a whole to see how many had restless legs syndrome."

Dr. Kotagal and his colleague Michael Silber, M.B.Ch.B., Mayo Clinic neurologist and sleep specialist, indicate that restless legs syndrome may account for some of the age-old notion of "growing pains."

"It's been known for decades that children have 'growing pains,'" says Dr. Kotagal. "Studies by other investigators have now shown that growing pains in some children may actually be restless legs syndrome."

Dr. Kotagal says that while infrequent "growing pains" may be immaterial, parents and children should be alert for a habitual pattern of discomfort in the limbs around bedtime.

"Occasional growing pains are nothing to worry about, but growing pains every night may be restless legs syndrome," he says. "It's like the fact that somebody might snore one or two days a month, but if it happens every night, it may be something that needs medical attention."

The study examined the records of 538 children who had been seen in the pediatric sleep disorders program at Mayo Clinic between Jan. 2000 and March 2004. New, rigidly defined diagnostic criteria established by a consen
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Contact: Lisa Lucier
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
28-Dec-2004


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