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Restless Legs Syndrome Can Have Family Ties
Date:5/10/2010

They're called nightwalkers. What happens is that the symptoms get worse in evening and peak during the night, and the only way to relieve symptoms is to move," he explained. "Of course, moving and sleeping are not compatible so what happens is people don't sleep, they disturb the family, they have problems driving and working. People have committed suicide. It can be very disturbing in its severe forms."

The study involved 671 individuals who met the criteria for having RLS, including 192 individuals who had initially been evaluated at a sleep center and 479 of their family members who answered questions over the telephone.

Sisters or brothers of someone with RLS were 3.6 times more likely to also have the condition as compared to those who did not have a sibling with RLS.

Children of parents with RLS faced almost double the risk.

"Our study gives us a lot of information about how genetic RLS is, what are the chances of having it, what does the disease look like in people and in family members," Rouleau said. "It's a disorder that's not well known or understood but it's very common. The main gist of the study was to get a very clear vision of what this disease is and what are the effects on people."

Scientists now need to start teasing out how much of RLS is environmental and how much genetic, the authors concluded.

More information

There's more on this condition at the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation.



SOURCES: Guy A. Rouleau, M.D., Ph.D., professor, medicine, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Carl Boethel, M.D., assistant professor, internal medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and medical director, Sleep Institute, Scott & White, Temple, Texas; May 2010, Archives of Neurology


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