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)
A-Z of Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy can be disabling