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Volume 15 No. 08
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Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

Does Improvement of Low Serum Ferritin Improve Symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome in a Cohort of Pediatric Patients?

Gerald M. Rosen, MD1; Sue Morrissette, RN1; Amy Larson, RN1; Pam Stading, RN1; Timothy L. Barnes, PhD, MPH2
1Children’s Minnesota Sleep Center, Children’s Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota;; 2Children’s Minnesota Research Institute, Children’s Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Study Objectives:

To determine whether an oral iron supplement improves restless leg/restless sleep symptoms in a pediatric population.


In a cohort study, 47 patients (age 5–18 years) exhibiting restless legs/restless sleep symptoms and low serum ferritin levels (< 50 ng/mL) were given a daily oral iron supplement (ferrous sulfate + vitamin C) and re-evaluated 8 weeks later. A diagnosis of definite Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) was determined based on criteria established by the International RLS Study Group. Using Wilcoxon signed-rank tests and Spearman rho, the change and association between the measures of Pediatric Restless Legs Syndrome Severity Scale and serum ferritin levels were also examined.


Overall, the median change and distribution of ferritin was statistically significantly different after 8 weeks of treatment (40.0 versus 23.0 ng/mL, P < .0001). Median RLS score was also statistically significantly lower from baseline to follow-up (4.0 versus 6.0, P = .0283). Sixteen patients met criteria for definite RLS; however, the change in RLS score was not determined to be significant in our population (9.5 versus 7.0, P = .0558), despite significant change in ferritin (25.0 versus 42.5 ng/mL, P < .0001). In addition, no correlation was observed between change in RLS score and ferritin level (rho = −.39, P = .1362).


In preliminary findings, we found a modest, yet nonsignificant improvement in children exhibiting restless sleep and RLS symptomatology, despite significant improvement in ferritin levels. Though not statistically significant, the findings can lend to the suggested benefit of iron supplementation in patients with RLS; however, clinical judgment and further research is necessary.


Rosen GM, Morrissette S, Larson A, Stading P, Barnes TL. Does improvement of low serum ferritin improve symptoms of restless legs syndrome in a cohort of pediatric patients? J Clin Sleep Med. 2019;15(8):1149–1154.

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