Sleep Disorders

05 January 2007

Early life key to narcolepsy

Environmental exposures early in life may contribute to the sleeping disorder narcolepsy later on, a new study finds.

Environmental exposures early in life may contribute to the sleeping disorder narcolepsy later on, a new study finds.

Narcolepsy causes people to fall asleep uncontrollably. It occurs in about one out of every 2 000 people, and there seems to be a genetic link to the disorder.

The study, published in the January 1 issue of Sleep, analysed findings from previous studies that had investigated factors associated with narcolepsy.

Caused by environmental factors
Dr Will Longstreth and colleagues at the University of Washington, Seattle, found that narcolepsy may be caused by environmental exposures in people who are genetically susceptible to the disorder.

These findings contradict the common belief that body-mass index (BMI), immune responses and stressful life events are the main factors causing narcolepsy. These factors may be a consequence rather than a cause of the disease, according to Longstreth.

More research, however, is needed to identify which environmental exposures are most important to the condition. Research should also focus on the first two decades of life, Longstreth said in a prepared statement. The identification of modifiable risk factors for narcolepsy could help to prevent the illness, the researchers added. – (HealthDayNews)

Read more:
A-Z of Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy can be disabling

January 2007


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Sleep disorders expert

Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules