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Hereditary Factors in Sleepwalking and Night Terrors

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 January 2018

Anthony Kales
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, and Director, Sleep Research and Treatment Center, Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033, USA
Constantin R. Soldatos
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Sleep Research and Treatment Center, Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine
Edward O. Bixler
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry and Sleep Research and Treatment Center, Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine
Roger L. Ladda
Affiliation:
Department of Pediatrics, Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine
Dennis S. Charney
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Gary Weber
Affiliation:
Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine
Paula K. Schweitzer
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine

Summary

The families of 25 probands with sleepwalking and 27 probands with night terrors were studied. Eighty per cent of the sleepwalking pedigrees and 96 per cent of the night terror pedigrees included one or more individuals, other than the proband, who were affected by sleepwalking, night terrors, or both. Our data appear to fit a ‘two threshold’ multifactorial mode of inheritance. This finding supports the hypothesis that sleepwalking and night terrors share a common genetic predisposition, with sleepwalking being a more prevalent and less severe manifestation of the same substrate that underlies night terrors. Heritable factors predispose an individual to develop sleepwalking and/or night terrors, but expression of the trait may be influenced by environmental factors.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1980 

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