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Study shows RLS traced to genetics

August 22, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Restless leg syndrome keeps about 12 million Americans awake each night. It's a syndrome characterized by the irrestible urge to move one's legs. Betty and her daughter Cyndi work side by side. Not only do they share their love for flowers. This mother-daughter team share the same genes -- some they wish they didn't.

"My legs jerk first. Then it feels like something crawling in it," said RLS sufferer, Betty Shaw.

"Just when you get to sleep good, it would start, and then you're up," said RLS sufferer, Cyndi Foshee.

Both suffer from restless legs syndrome or RLS and now, another female in the family is getting up during the night with leg pains.

"My 18-year-old daughter is starting to show signs of it," said Foshee.

Sixty-percent of all sufferers say family members also have it. That's the case for one German man.

"He's a member of one of the largest RLS families in the world," said neurologist Dr. Juliane Winkelmann.

Out of 70 family members living in Bavaria, 20 of them experience pain, itching and an incredible urge to keep moving their legs. Until now, there's been no cause, but a team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany has tracked down genes that may be responsible.

"We identified variants -- genetic variants in three genes, which -- and these variants increased the risk to develop RLS," said Dr. Winkelmann.

If you have these genes, researchers say you're 20-times more likely to get RLS.

This new finding could lead to a cure to stop the pain. For now, some natural ways to relieve symptoms include an increase in folate, taking a multivitamin, eliminating caffeine and taking two aspirins before bedtime may help relieve the symptoms -- symptoms that can effect everyone in your family differently.

As for these women, they're hoping to get relief tonight and a cure in the near future.

 

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