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Restless legs syndrome/Willis-Ekbom disease and periodic limb movement disorder in children

Daniel L Picchietti, MD
Section Editor
Ronald D Chervin, MD, MS
Deputy Editor
Alison G Hoppin, MD


Restless legs syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom disease (WED), is a common, complex, and treatable neurological condition. A substantial body of literature about pediatric RLS/WED has emphasized its impact on sleep, as well as frequent comorbidity with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood disorders, and anxiety disorders [1-4]. Consensus diagnostic criteria for children were updated in 2013 [5,6], and pediatric-specific treatment data are emerging.

Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) is characterized by clinical sleep disturbance and by repetitive limb jerking in sleep (known as periodic limb movements of sleep, PLMS), that is not better explained by another condition, medication use, or substance use [7]. In children, PLMD appears to be closely related to RLS, although they are distinct diagnostic entities [1,8,9].

Because of the similarities of pediatric RLS/WED and PLMD [9], especially overlap in the approach to treatment, they are presented together in this topic review, with important differences noted when applicable. The following topic reviews have related content:

(See "Assessment of sleep disorders in children".)

(See "Clinical features and diagnosis of restless legs syndrome/Willis-Ekbom disease and periodic limb movement disorder in adults".)


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