Restless Legs Syndrome Is Frequently Familial

Siblings and children of those with RLS are at increased risk of developing the disease
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Restless legs syndrome (RLS) has a high familial rate, and siblings of those who are severely affected by the disease appear to be at increased risk of developing it themselves, according to research published in the May issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Lan Xiong, M.D., of the University of Montreal, and colleagues conducted a case series survey of 249 consecutive RLS probands and their family members. Outcomes measured included the risk of RLS in siblings and offspring of proband cases, as well as the clinical and genetic features of familial RLS (fRLS).

The researchers found a 77 percent familial rate. Siblings and offspring of an RLS patient had an increased risk of developing the disease (relative risks, 3.6 and 1.8, respectively). In addition, the data supported that fRLS tends to be more prominent in females with increased incidence of anemia/iron deficiency, number of pregnancies, and arthritis. In addition, the researchers found that fRLS is a chronic condition that has a mean duration of 24 years and a large range of age at disease onset. Disease onset is early in most family members, and symptoms are usually mild to moderate.

"RLS is one of the few common neurological disorders that exhibit significant familial aggregation. The dissection of the underlying genetic and nongenetic composition of the outstanding familial aggregation observed in RLS should be interesting to all concerned physicians, geneticists, and epidemiologists," the authors write.

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