Scientists have noted that children with narcolepsy-cataplexy have an increased prevalence of overweight/obesity. More recent studies have linked narcolepsy-cataplexy with precocious puberty, and have indicated that the earlier the onset of narcolepsy-cataplexy in a child, the greater the risk of precocious puberty. Weight loss can occur after treating narcolepsy-cataplexy in children, but the extent that treating narcolepsy-cataplexy can reverse precocious puberty has not been examined in depth. Exactly how narcolepsy and precocious puberty are related is unclear but research studies have produced some interesting findings.
Approximately 25% to 74% of individuals with narcolepsy-cataplexy are overweight or obese, and precocious puberty occurs in 17% of children with narcolepsy-cataplexy. Narcolepsy is a syndrome consisting of four symptoms: vivid realistic dream imagery on going to sleep (i.e., hypnagogic hallucination) or on awakening (i.e., hypnopompic hallucination); excessive daytime sleepiness; sleep paralysis (i.e., a temporary inability to move on awakening or going to sleep); and cataplexy (i.e., sudden skeletal muscle weakness that occurs with the expression of strong emotions such as mirth or anger). A person does not have to have all four symptoms to be diagnosed with narcolepsy. In recent years, a fifth symptom has been suggested: disrupted nocturnal sleep.
Narcolepsy can occur with cataplexy (i.e., “narcolepsy type I”) or without cataplexy (i.e., “narcolepsy type II”). Exactly how narcolepsy develops is unknown. Some evidence indicates that narcolepsy has a genetic component. Some people with narcolepsy, especially people with narcolepsy-cataplexy, have the HLA-DQB1*06:02 gene.
To learn more about the possible link between narcolepsy-cataplexy and precocious puberty, view the entire article in the A2Zzz Q2 2020 issue.
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