Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Childhood parasomnia--a disorder of sleep maturation?

BACKGROUND: Childhood parasomnias are believed to be a benign disorder due to immaturity of some neural circuits, synapses and receptors. The aim of our study was to explore a possible connection with other neurological developmental disorders.

METHODS: 72 children (mean age 9.9 ± 5.0 years, 47 boys) were clinically examined and 88 nocturnal v-PSG and 22 v-EEG recordings were evaluated. The most frequent diagnostic findings were: sleepwalking in 24 children, confusional arousal in 21, sleep terror in 8, groaning and enuresis each in 7, non-specific arousal disorder in 4 patients, and REM-related parasomnia in only one child. For statistical evaluation chi-square test, the two-sample t-test and Mann-Whitney rank test were used.

RESULTS: Perinatal risk history was found in 38% of the cohort. Developmental disorders were diagnosed in 30 children (41.7%), more frequently in combinations with: attention-hyperactivity disorder (30.6%), dyslexia and dysgraphia (13.9%), developmental dysphasia (9.7%), mild motor and/or intellectual dysfunction (6.9%). Abnormal movements in sleep, some of them also regarded as developmental, were diagnosed in 37 children (51.4%). Sleep-related breathing disorders were found in 29 patients (40.3%) -snoring (29.2%) and/or sleep apnea (11.1%). Only 16.7% had no comorbidity. Most of the children (60%) showed 2 or 3, exceptionally up to 5 comorbidities. Children, in whom no parasomnia was found in close relatives, had a mild but non-significant earlier onset of the disease (4.4 ± 4.0 against 6.3 ± 4.3 years).

CONCLUSION: Childhood parasomnias are frequently associated with perinatal risk factors and developmental comorbidities, and can be regarded as a disorder of sleep maturation.

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