Parents commonly reported sleep concerns that persisted with age for children with early-life epilepsies, according to study results published in Pediatric Neurology.

“Although sleep is cited as a prominent concern among parents of children with [early-life epilepsies], it remains understudied,” Gita Gupta, MD, MS, of the department of pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School, and colleagues wrote. “Characterization of sleep disorders in children with [early-life epilepsies] is required in order to systematically address underlying sleep pathology and to assess whether treatment of sleep pathology is a mechanism through which early-life epilepsy] outcomes could be optimized. Therefore, we aimed to assess the profile of sleep disorders in children with [early-life epilepsies] who were enrolled in the Rare Epilepsy Network.”

child sleeping
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The investigators used online questionnaires to query participants of the Rate Epilepsy Network regarding the sleep of 356 children (56% girls; median age, 56 months). Parents reported sleep concerns among 53% of the children, with frequent nighttime awakenings (45%), difficulty falling asleep (38%) and very restless sleep (34%) representing the most common manifestations. Gupta and colleagues noted an association between nocturnal seizures, which occurred among 75% of children, and sleep concerns. A total of 43% of children without nocturnal seizures had sleep concerns. Children with Dup15 syndrome were most likely to have sleep concerns (84%). The researchers noted increased risk for having a sleep concern among children aged 4 to 10 years (adjusted OR = 16.1; 95% CI, 2-131) and 10 years to younger than 13 years (aOR = 22.2; 95% CI, 2.6-188.6) compared with those aged 6 months or younger. Girls appeared to have a lower risk for sleep concerns (aOR = 0.6; 95% CI, 0.4-0.9). After adjustment for sex and age category in a logistic regression model, the researchers found the association between sleep concerns and nocturnal seizures appeared weaker.

“Treatment of sleep disorders may present an opportunity to optimize epilepsy outcomes with relatively low-risk interventions and improve the quality of life for children with [early-life epilepsies] and their families,” Gupta and colleagues wrote.