Restless legs in pregnancy?
Women who experience restless legs syndrome during pregnancy may have the problem again after giving birth.
This strange condition, which remains controversial, causes unpleasant sensations in the legs when a person is at rest, triggering an uncontrollable urge to move the legs to get relief. Its exact cause is unknown.
Earlier studies, have found about a quarter of women experience the symptoms at some point during pregnancy, a rate several times higher than the five to 10% found in the general population, said Dr. Mauro Manconi, who led the work.
A new study, published in the journal Neurology, found nearly 25% of 74 women with symptoms during pregnancy were considered to have restless legs syndrome (RLS) at seven years after delivery.
These women told researchers they had restless legs at least three times over a month or four times over two months. By comparison, less than 8% of women without symptoms during pregnancy got the RLS label.
"Now we can reassure pregnant women about the nature of the symptoms, but we can also warn them about a possible development of RLS later," said Manconi.
Manconi added that the diagnosis could be difficult, because there are no measurable biological signs of the condition. He said the standard therapy, so-called dopaminergic drugs, had never been tested in pregnant women and might interfere with the baby's development or with milk production.
"Before considering drug therapy, we believe doctors should reassure mothers that the nature of the syndrome is benign and the symptoms will almost certainly disappear after delivery," Manconi said. "Moreover, these women should be informed that tiring days, caffeine, iron deficiency and anxiety might make the restlessness worse."
But some experts are sceptical about the new results.
"There is reason to think that the numbers they are coming up with are inflated," said Dr. Steven Woloshin of the Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire, adding that the study needed to be confirmed at other centres.
He said the women could have biased responses, especially given the vague criteria used to diagnose RLS, including an urge to move one's legs due to an unpleasant feeling, onset or worsening of symptoms when not moving around and primarily at night.
Are you suffering from restless legs during your pregnancy?