Narcolepsy in Children and Adolescents
Diagnosing pediatric narcolepsy can be a real challenge. The start of symptoms generally occurs between the ages of 10 and 25 years. However, narcolepsy symptoms are more likely to be missed if they start before age 18, and these children often do not get a narcolepsy diagnosis until adulthood. Therefore, it’s important to promote better awareness among parents, school professionals, children and adolescents, the general public, and even pediatric healthcare providers.
Factors that can make pediatric narcolepsy difficult to diagnose include:
- Different duration of sleep in children
- Children's difficulty verbalizing their symptoms
- Different appearance of cataplexy, a common symptom, in children
- Misinterpretation of the major symptoms by adults
- Misdiagnosis as other conditions
Sadly, in children and adolescents, narcolepsy can often be mistaken for laziness or lack of motivation.
More than 50% of
people with narcolepsy
say their symptoms
started before age 18.