Development of parasomnias from childhood to early adolescence

L Laberge, R E Tremblay, F Vitaro, J Montplaisir
Pediatrics 2000, 106 (1): 67-74

OBJECTIVES: This study examines the prevalence and developmental changes of parasomnias and assesses gender differences, relationships between parasomnias, and associations with anxiety and family adversity using data collected during the course of a longitudinal study of a representative sample of children from Québec.

METHOD: The present analyses are based on results available for 664 boys and 689 girls for whom mothers have completed questions concerning demographics, parasomnias, and anxiety level. For the prevalence and developmental aspects of parasomnias, prospective data were collected at annual intervals from 11 to 13 years old and retrospective data for the period between ages 3 and 10 years were collected when the children were 10 years old.

RESULTS: Somniloquy, leg restlessness, and sleep bruxism are the most frequent parasomnias. More girls were afflicted with leg restlessness, while enuresis and somniloquy were more common in boys. High anxiety scores were found in children suffering from night terrors, somniloquy, leg restlessness, sleep bruxism, and body rocking. Parasomnias were unrelated to the index of family adversity.

CONCLUSIONS: Although sleepwalking, night terrors, enuresis, and body rocking dramatically decreased during childhood, somniloquy, leg restlessness, and sleep bruxism were still highly prevalent at age 13 years, paralleling results found in adults. Sleepwalking, night terrors, and somniloquy are conditions often found together. The only robust gender difference was for enuresis. High anxiety scores in parasomnias are reported for the first time in a large, controlled study. Sociodemographic variables do not seem to play a major role in the occurrence of parasomnias.

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