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Obstructive sleep apnea and periodic limb movement in children: is there really an association?

Sleep Medicine 2023 November 12
PURPOSE: Periodic limb movements (PLMs) can be found isolated or related to other sleep disorders, as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Nevertheless, this association was described before the proposal for modification of the World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM), which incorporated major changes modifying the definition of respiratory-related leg movements (RRLM) so that the relationship between OSA and PLM could be affected.

METHODS: A total of 131 PSG were studied (children with ages from 5 to 12 years old), all referred because of a suspicion of sleep-disordered breathing (65 children were diagnosed of OSA, and 66 presented snoring but no sleep apnea). Leg movements were manually scored according to both 2006 and 2016 WASM/IRLSSG criteria.

RESULTS: According to 2006 WASM rules, statistical differences were found, not only for PLM index (p 0.002), but all indexes. Nevertheless, according to new 2016 WASM rules, no statistical differences were found for PLM index (p 0.677), non-REM PLM index (p 0.299), REM PLM index (P 0.511) or PLM with arousal index (p 0.180), between OSA and non-OSA group. Positive correlation between PLM and RRLM have been found with both set of rules. The percentage of children with PLM>5/h is higher when using the prior PLM scoring criteria developed in 2006 (38.93%) versus the updated PLM scoring criteria (19.08%).

CONCLUSION: The lack of association when using the new WASM/IRLSSG scoring rules together with the absence of a previous clear etiopathology explanation may suggest that the association between OSA and PLM might be indeed overestimated and that, perhaps, it really did not exist.

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