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Mov Disord. 2008 Jun 15;23(8):1113-21; quiz 1203. doi: 10.1002/mds.22016.

Childhood-onset restless legs syndrome: clinical and genetic features of 22 families.

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Department of Neuropediatrics, University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany.


Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sensory-motor disorder that is underdiagnosed in children and often misclassified as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Five different gene loci (RLS1-5) and three susceptibility loci have been identified in adult-onset RLS. We included 23 children with RLS (age at onset < or =14 years) from 22 families. In 14 families, we performed linkage and genotype analyses. Of the 23 RLS patients, only seven (30.4%) were admitted for a suspected diagnosis of RLS. Five patients had a retrospectively established onset at an age as early as 1 year. The most frequent complaint in patients were sleep problems (21 of 23; 91%) resulting in fatigue in 14 children (60.9%). Twelve of the 19 tested cases (63.2%) exhibited an index of periodic limb movements in sleep greater than 5. Dopaminergic therapy was successful in 12 of 14 treated patients (85.7%). Family history for RLS was positive in 20 of 23 children (87.0%) and compatible with an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern. Linkage analysis excluded all five loci in two families. A trend for an association at two of the three reported susceptibility regions was observed. RLS symptoms can occur in early childhood. The positive family history suggests a genetic cause in most families with at least one additional RLS gene locus.

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