To fully ascertain the familial aggregation of restless legs syndrome (RLS) and to characterize the clinical features of familial RLS (fRLS) cases.
A case series survey with a high response rate.
Academic research center.
Consecutive RLS probands (n = 249) were followed up in a specialized sleep center for 15 years. A total of 671 cases of fRLS met the current standard diagnostic criteria, including 192 probands characterized using multidimensional clinical assessments and 479 affected family members assessed by their responses to a structured questionnaire telephone diagnostic interview.
Main Outcome Measures
Sibling and offspring relative risk ratio and clinical and genetic features of patients with fRLS and families.
Our data showed that RLS aggregates in families with a familial rate of 77%, a sibling relative risk of 3.6 (95% confidence interval, 2.8-4.4), and an offspring relative risk of 1.8 (1.0-2.7). Familial RLS is a chronic disorder with a mean (SD) disease duration of 24 (16) years and a wide range of age of onset (mean [SD], 28  years), with most family members having early-onset disease but mild to moderate RLS symptoms. Our clinical data also indicated that fRLS is more prominent among women who also had increased incidence of anemia/iron deficiency, arthritis, and number of pregnancies. Pregnancy-related RLS seems to be a characteristic feature of fRLS, and afflicted women tend to have a much younger age of onset.
Restless legs syndrome significantly aggregated in families with variable phenotypic expressivity, and the siblings of severely affected individuals have an increased risk of developing the disease.