Prevalence of restless legs syndrome during pregnancy: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Sleep Med Rev. 2018 Aug;40:43-54. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2017.10.003. Epub 2017 Oct 25.


Pregnant women are more likely to be affected by restless legs syndrome (RLS) than the general population. Restless legs syndrome during pregnancy is associated with adverse maternal and fetal outcomes. Currently unknown is the worldwide and regional prevalence of RLS in pregnant women. We performed a meta-analysis to provide a full profile of the prevalence of RLS during pregnancy. A systematic search of the PubMed, Medline, EMBASE, and Web of Science databases was performed to identify studies that were published up to April 2017, followed by random-effects meta-analyses. A total of 196 articles were identified, among which 27 longitudinal and cross-sectional observational studies with 51,717 pregnant subjects were included in the analysis. The pooled overall prevalence of RLS across all three trimesters was 21%. According to the regional classification of the World health organization, the prevalence of RLS during pregnancy in the European Region, Western Pacific Region, Eastern Mediterranean Region, and Region of the Americas was 22%, 14%, 30%, and 20%, respectively. The regional prevalence in the African Region and South-East Asia Region was not assessed because of insufficient data. We also analyzed the prevalence of RLS in the first, second, and third trimesters of pregnancy, and the rates of RLS were 8%, 16%, and 22%, respectively. We also found that the high prevalence of RLS decreased to 4% after delivery. No publication bias was found in these analyses. The findings emphasize the high occurrence of RLS during pregnancy. Future studies should examine the effects of RLS during pregnancy on maternal and fetal outcomes.

Keywords: Pregnancy; Prevalence; Restless legs syndrome.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires