Narcolepsy is a neurological syndrome characterised by daytime somnolence and cataplexy which often begins in childhood. Failing to recognise the condition may lead to mislabelling a child as lazy or depressed. The diagnostic criteria for narcolepsy vary with age. In children 8 years and older a Multiple Sleep Latency Test with an average latency of less than 8 minutes, and 2 or more sleep onset REM episodes supports the diagnosis. Human leucocyte antigen (HLA) marker DQbeta1 -0602 has been associated with narcolepsy. The current evidence supports the hypothesis that transmission of narcolepsy is multifactorial. with at least two genes, one of which is non-HLA related. The goal of all therapeutic approaches in narcolepsy is to control the narcoleptic symptoms and allow the patient to continue to fully participate in personal and academic activities. This usually requires a combination of behavioural therapy along with medication. Medications for patients with excessive sleepiness are usually stimulants, including amphetamines. However, a novel wake promoting agent, modafinil, is now available. Cataplexy can be controlled by medications with noradrenergic reuptake-blocking properties, such as clomipramine and fluoxetine, through their active metabolites. Increased awareness of narcolepsy is important to allow earlier diagnosis. Research on the effects different medications have, specifically on children with narcolepsy, has been very limited.
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