New therapy for restless leg syndrome in pregnant women shows positive effects


A new study reveals iron substitution through infusions of ferric carboxymaltose as a potentially effective therapy for restless leg syndrome, one of the most common and bothering sleeping disorders in pregnant women. The study was presented at the meeting of the European Neurological Society (ENS) in Lisbon, Portugal.

“Restless leg syndrome, one of the most common and bothering sleeping disorders, is about twice as common in pregnant women than in the overall population, but it seems we now can offer many sufferers a simple and very effective therapy,” Claudio Bassetti, Neurocentro della Svizzera Italiana Lugano, Italy, told delegates at the meeting of the European Neurological Society (ENS) on 30 May 2011.


Bassetti reported on preliminary results of an ongoing study showing that infusions of ferric carboxymaltose can significantly reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome in pregnant women with iron deficiency anaemia as early as the first night following treatment.


Restless leg syndrome occurs in 5 to 10% of the general population, but in 10 to 20% of pregnant women. “Few studies suggest that pregnant women have a high frequency of restless leg syndrome and that this syndrome in pregnancy may be related to iron deficiency”, Bassetti said. “As a consequence, we wanted to study if restless leg syndrome-symptoms would cease after the iron deficiency was cured. In our ongoing study we are treating child-bearing women, who suffer both from iron deficiency and restless leg syndrome, with infusions of ferric carboxymaltose, a drug approved in Switzerland for the treatment of iron deficiency anaemia in pregnancy. Ninety per cent of the patients so far studied reported a marked decrease in restless leg syndrome-symptoms starting the first night following treatment. Four weeks after the treatment, the restless leg syndrome score (a validated tool to assess the severity of restless leg syndrome-symptoms) was reduced from 25 ± 5 to 8 ± 5. We do not expect our final results to significantly diverge from these preliminary data. We conclude that pregnant women with restless leg syndrome may profit of intravenous iron infusions.”
Sleep is a precondition for brain recovery after stroke


Another hot topic on the agenda of the European Neurological Society meeting was brain research, especially the increasing understanding of the brain’s ability to compensate after damage and the conditions needed for such recovery. “For quite some time already, clinical experience suggests that sleep disturbances may negatively influence the outcome after cerebral stroke, but evidence was missing,” Bassetti said. “In a new study on a rat model, we were able to prove experimentally, for the first time, that sleep deprivation significantly hampers brain recovery. After inducing an ischaemic stroke in a population of rats, one part of the laboratory animals were deprived of 80% of their usual sleep during the 12-hours light phase on three consecutive days, whilst another group was allowed to repose as they wanted. Various parameters were assessed such as axonal sprouting, neurogenesis and angiogenesis. On day 14 we already saw significant differences in the healing progress of both groups. At day 35, less than 50% of the brain damages were repaired in the sleep-deprived group, whereas the recovery in the group that was allowed to sleep was almost complete. Further studies are needed to test the hypothesis that sleep enhancing approaches may positively affect recovery after stroke and improve neuroplasticity,” Bassetti added.