Pregnant women are at higher risk for the occurrence or worsening of restless legs syndrome (RLS), a movement disorder that affects up to 10 percent of the general population, according to a study reported in the September 28 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Researchers in Milan, Italy, recently concluded a large and detailed epidemiological study on RLS during pregnancy and six months postpartum that demonstrates at least one in four pregnant women experience RLS. RLS is characterized by an urge to move the legs, generally accompanied by unpleasant numbness, tingling, or burning sensations; an increase in symptoms during rest and a partial, temporary relief from symptoms through activity; and a worsening of symptoms in the evening or at night. Symptoms tend to progress with age.
The association between RLS and pregnancy was noted first in 1940, and confirmed later by a few epidemiological investigations. "While several attempts have been made to study the connection between pregnancy and RLS, ours is the first epidemiological study to use the four standard International RLS committee diagnostic criteria," noted Mauro Manconi, MD, of the Sleep Disorders Center at Vita-Salute University, Milan.
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