Of all the conditions that appear during pregnancy — from gestational diabetes and acne to foot growth and intense cravings — transient restless leg syndrome (RLS) doesn’t get a lot of attention. But according to new research published in the December 7 issue of Neurology, it should get its due for at least one reason: it may come back later in life.
RLS is a sleep-related motor disorder in which aches and twinges in the legs cause urges to move them. It flares up at night making sleep difficult, and symptoms of RLS tend to worsen with age. (More on Time.com: 5 Pregnancy Taboos Explained (or Debunked))
In the new study of 207 women, 74 had RLS during pregnancy and 133 did not. Over the course of the six-and-a-half-year study, those who had RLS during pregnancy were four times more likely to get the disorder again later on, compared with peers who never had the disorder: 24% (18 women) of those who had RLS during pregnancy had it again at the end of the study, compared with 8% (10 women) of those who did not have the condition during pregnancy.
Women who had RLS in pregnancy were also three times more likely to develop the chronic form of the condition than women who did not have pregnancy-related RLS. Further, about 60% of women who experienced RLS during pregnancy reported the symptoms again in a future pregnancy, compared with 3% of women who did not have RLS during a first pregnancy but developed it a subsequent pregnancy. (More on Time.com: Video: Filming Embryos Improves Chances of Pregnancy)
“Most of the time, when a woman experiences RLS in pregnancy, it disappears after the baby is born,” said Dr. Mauro Marconi, the study’s author and a researcher at Vita-Salute University in Milan, Italy. However, our results show that having the condition during pregnancy is a significant risk factor for a future chronic form or the short-term form in other pregnancies down the road.”
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