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sleep disorders in children - NICE guidance - suspected neurological conditions - recognition and referral

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Sleep disorders in children

Summary points from NICE guidance relating to sleep disorders in children are:

Symptoms suggesting possible respiratory failure

  • refer urgently children with neuromuscular disorders who have early-morning headaches or new-onset sleep disturbance for a respiratory assessment

Sleep disorders suggesting nocturnal seizures

  • refer urgently children who have symptoms suggestive of new-onset epileptic seizures in sleep for neurological assessment

Narcolepsy

  • refer children with symptoms suggestive of narcolepsy, with or without cataplexy, for neurological assessment or a sleep clinic assessment according to local pathways

Sleep disorders suggesting sleep apnoea

  • refer children with symptoms of sleep apnoea to ear, nose and throat or paediatric respiratory services, as appropriate, and offer advice on weight loss if the child is obese

Night terrors in children aged over 5 years

  • refer children aged over 5 years with new-onset night terrors and children with night terrors that persist after age 12

Night terrors and other sleep disturbances in children aged under 5 years

  • reassure parents or carers of children aged under 5 years who have night terrors, repetitive movements, sleep talking or sleep walking that these are common in healthy children and rarely indicate a neurological condition
  • offer advice on sleep hygiene to parents or carers of children with insomnia, and consider referring to a health visitor if the child is aged under 5 years

Sleep disorders in children with neurodevelopmental disorders or learning disabilities

  • consider referring children with sleep disorders associated with neurodevelopmental disorders or learning disabilities to community paediatric services

Sleep disorders as a result of gastro-oesophageal reflux or constipation

  • be aware that sleep disorders in children may be a symptom of gastrooesophageal reflux or constipation - management of gastrooesophageal reflux or constipation is indicated if identified as possible cause

Reference:

Last edited 05/2019

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