Restless Legs Syndrome Symptoms In Pregnancy

I am 7 months pregnant. Recently I noticed that I get strange feelings in my legs with an urge to move my legs in the evening while resting in bed. A friend who has RLS tells me that I may be developing symptoms of RLS. Is my friend correct?

Your friend may very well be correct. You should consult an RLS specialist as well as your obstetrician/ gynecologist. Several studies have found an increased frequency of RLS during pregnancy. Approximately 20 to 25% of expectant mothers develop RLS during pregnancy, most prominently in the last trimester of pregnancy. Interestingly, Ekbom (who originally coined the term “restless legs syndrome” and described this disease’s clinical features in the middle of the twentieth century) reported a high prevalence of RLS symptoms in pregnant women.

In some pregnant women with a previous diagnosis of RLS, symptoms become worse during pregnancy; in the majority, however, symptoms appear for the first time during pregnancy with subse-quent resolution of symptoms around the time of delivery. Some studies have noted worsening of previously experienced RLS symptoms or the onset of RLS symptoms for the first time during pregnancy in both familial and nonfamilial RLS patients, albeit more frequently in cases of familial RLS.

Several factors are thought to be responsible for the exacerbation or occurrence of RLS symptoms during pregnancy, including iron and folate deficiencies (although folic acid or folate is now prescribed routinely throughout pregnancy), hormonal changes (e.g., increased levels of estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin), and mechanical factors causing lower limb vascular congestion.