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Rhythmic movement disorder: a prevalence and phenotyping study

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    A study to determine the prevalence and phenotype of rhythmic movement disorder in pre-school children in Solent East NHS Trust.



  • Contact name

    Catherine M Hill

  • Contact email

  • Sponsor organisation

    Solent NHS Trust

  • Duration of Study in the UK

    1 years, 2 months, 6 days

  • Research summary

    Rhythmic movement disorder (RMD) involves stereotyped, repetitive movements at sleep onset; specifically head banging, body rocking or rolling with or without vocalisation. RMD starts between 6 and 12 months of age. If it persists into later childhood it can be resistant to treatment. It is likely to be a conditioned soothing behaviour although some children also exhibit this behaviour during sleep. While most children with RMD are healthy and typically developing, it is more frequent in developmental disorders such as autism. A Swedish prevalence study in 1971, reported rates of 60% in infancy with 90% resolving by 3 years. Local experience (health visiting and Children’s Hospital sleep service) suggests that this is an over-estimate. Little is understood about this condition and there have been no RCTs of treatment.
    This study aims to firstly determine the prevalence of RMD in pre-school children receiving universal health visitor contacts at 9-15 months and 2-2.5 years of age. Secondly, children identified as having RMD will be invited to participate in a phenotyping study comprising questionnaire based assessments of health, development and sleep alongside socio-demographic and life-event data. Overnight CCTV recording will characterise the RMD. Wrist watch actigraphy over 5 nights will determine sleep quality. Families will be invited to contact a friend or family with a child of the same gender, in the target age ranges, to participate as healthy controls, based on questionnaire and actigraphy data only. An estimated prevalence rate of < 1/100 and 85% update of universal contacts predicts a maximum of 40 participants and 40 controls. This will provide pilot data and is pragmatically possible within resources. Prevalence rates, estimated accounting for non-attendance at universal checks, will provide essential data to power future treatment trials. Families of children with RMD will be invited to join a research data-base.

  • REC name

    South West - Cornwall & Plymouth Research Ethics Committee

  • REC reference


  • Date of REC Opinion

    19 Dec 2014

  • REC opinion

    Further Information Favourable Opinion