Washington, Feb 2 (ANI): A new study has shown the pregnancy-related increase in estradiol hormone levels is more pronounced in pregnant women with restless legs syndrome (RLS) than in controls.The researchers observed that in the last trimester of pregnancy, levels of the estrogenic steroid hormone estradiol were 34,211 pg/mL in women with RLS, and 25,475 pg/mL in healthy controls.
At three months postpartum, estradiol levels had dropped to 30.73 pg/mL in the RLS group and 94.92 pg/mL in controls. Other hormone levels did not differ significantly between the study groups.
The authors said that the data pointed out that estrogens play an important role in RLS during pregnancy.
The study also supports previous reports of high RLS incidence in the last trimester of pregnancy when estradiol is maximally elevated.
"Our findings strongly support the concept that neuroactive hormones play a relevant pathophysiological role in RLS. This information will increase the understanding of RLS in pregnancy and will assist in the development of specific therapeutic approaches," said principal investigator Thomas Pollmacher, MD, director of the Center for Medical Health at Klinikum Ingolstadt.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, RLS is a sleep-related movement disorder that involves an almost irresistible urge to move the legs at night.
Eighty percent to 90 percent of people with RLS also experience periodic limb movements (PLMs) during sleep, which are involuntary jerking or twitching movements of the feet or legs.
The study also found that women with RLS had more PLMs than controls before and after delivery. PLMs decreased significantly after delivery in women with RLS and stayed low in women without RLS.
Only minor differences appeared between the two study groups in subjective sleep quality and objective sleep measures.
The researchers gave one explanation suggesting that only RLS patients who did not need pharmacological treatment were selected for the study; RLS symptoms of participants were in the mild to moderate range.
The study involved nine healthy pregnant women (mean age 32.9 years) who were placed in a control group and 10 pregnant women (mean age 31.6 years) who fulfilled diagnostic criteria for RLS.
Eight women from the RLS group reported symptoms previous to the present pregnancy, and all members of the RLS group described worsening of symptoms during pregnancy. The mean age of onset for RLS symptoms was 22.6 years.
Sleep data and leg movements were recorded during overnight polysomnography around the 36th week of gestation and again at 12 weeks postpartum.
Blood samples were taken each morning after the polysomnography and before breakfast. Accompanying questionnaires on sleep and RLS symptoms also were collected.
The study has been published in the journal Sleep. (ANI)