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Pediatr Neurol. 2000 Mar;22(3):182-6.

Dopaminergic therapy in children with restless legs/periodic limb movements in sleep and ADHD. Dopaminergic Therapy Study Group.

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Department of Adult Neurology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.


The long-term effects of monotherapy with levodopa or the dopamine agonist pergolide on the motor/sensory, behavioral, and cognitive variables in seven children with restless legs syndrome/periodic limb movements in sleep (RLS/PLMS) and attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were investigated. Five of the seven children had previously been treated with stimulants that had either been determined to be ineffective or to have intolerable side effects. Dopaminergic therapy improved the symptoms of RLS and reduced the number of PLMS per hour of sleep (P = 0.018) and associated arousals (P = 0.042) for the entire group. After treatment, three children no longer met the criteria for ADHD, and three reverted to normal on the Test of Variable Attention. ADHD improved in all seven as measured by the Connors parent rating scale (P<0.04) and the Child Behavior Checklist (P<0.05). A significant improvement also occurred in the visual, but not verbal, memory scores on the Wide Range Assessment of Memory and Learning (P<0.001). Five of seven children continue on dopaminergic therapy 3 years after treatment initiation, with good response. We postulate that the improvement in ADHD may be the result of the amelioration of RLS/PLMS and its associated sleep disturbance. Alternatively, ADHD and RLS/PLMS may share a common dopaminergic deficit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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