Friday, June 3, 2016


Austin, TX June 3, 2016 – Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Center in San Diego has been certified as a restless legssyndrome (RLS) Quality Care Center by the RLS Foundation. This certification recognizes Vanderbilt as a specialty center for treating RLS patients with a range of complexities and comorbidities.

RLS (also known asWillis-Ekbom disease) is a chronic neurological disorder affecting millions of people, with often devastating impact on quality of life; an estimated 2 to 3 percent of adults need clinical treatment for RLS.

J. Steven Poceta, MD, director the RLS Quality Care Center at Scripps Clinic, says, “At Scripps Clinic, we are honored to be recognized as an RLS Quality Care Center. This designation is not about us, however – it is about increasing awareness of RLS for people who are undiagnosed and about trying to improve the lives of patients who have RLS. We hope that this RLS Quality Care Center designation is the beginning of more research and better treatment of patients.”

The RLS Foundation coordinates a network of certified RLS Quality CareCenter to improve diagnosis and treatment of the disease worldwide. Centers must meet rigorous criteria that demonstrate a high level of expertise and experience treating patients who have RLS.
The program benefits patients and families through:
  • Recognition of RLS Quality Care Centers as leaders in the field and as specialty clinics for patients who are traveling or in search of knowledgeable healthcare providers
  • Availability of RLS Quality Care Center staff as resources for referring primary care providers
  • Patient educational offerings, print materials and connection with RLS Foundation local support groups

“We are pleased to welcome the distinguished and experienced RLS providers at Scripps Clinic to our Quality Care Center network,” says RLS Foundation Executive Director Karla Dzienkowski. “At the RLS Foundation, we receive calls every day from people who are seeking expert care to help manage their RLS symptoms. RLS Quality Care Centers provide access to certified providers who are experts in the diagnosis, treatment and management of RLS. This leads to improving quality of life for these patients as well as their families.”
Other certified RLS Quality Care Centers include:
·       Emory Sleep Center
·       Innsbruck Medical University, Department of Neurology, Sleep Lab and Sleep Disorders Outpatient Clinic

To learn more about the RLS Quality Care Center Program, visit

The RLS Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of men, women and children who live with restless legs syndrome (RLS, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease). Founded in 1989, the Foundation’s goals are to increase awareness, improve treatments and through research, find a cure for RLS. The Foundation serves healthcare providers, researchers, 4,000 members and an estimated seven million individuals in the United States and Canada who have RLS. The RLS Foundation Research Grant Program has awarded $1.6 million to fund medical research on RLS causes and treatments. For more information, visit
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Thursday, June 2, 2016

PRESS RELEASE, May 18, 2016
Drug Used for Pain, Anxiety May Be Linked to Birth Defects

MINNEAPOLIS – A drug commonly used to treat pain, epilepsy, anxiety and other brain health disorders may be associated with an increased risk of major birth defects, according to a study published in the May 18, 2016, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The drug pregabalin is approved by the FDA to treat epilepsy, fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain, such as pain from diabetic neuropathy or pain after shingles or spinal cord injury. It is also used for generalized anxiety disorder and other mental health issues. This is called off-label prescribing.

For the study, information was collected in seven countries from 164 women who took pregabalin during a pregnancy and 656 pregnant women who were not taking any anti-seizure drugs. The women or their practitioners were then contacted again after their expected date of delivery. 

Pregnancies of the women who took pregabalin during the first trimester of pregnancy were three times more likely to result in major birth defects than those of the women who did not take anti-seizure drugs. Seven of the 116 pregnancies in women taking anti-seizure drugs, or 6 percent, had major birth defects, compared to 12 of 580 pregnancies, or 2 percent, in women who did not take the drug. Birth defects due to chromosomal abnormalities were not included in these results.

The major birth defects included heart defects and structural problems with the central nervous system (CNS) or other organs. The women taking pregabalin were six times more likely to have a pregnancy with a major defect in the central nervous system than women who were not taking the drug, with four CNS defects out of 125 pregnancies, or 3.2 percent, compared to three CNS defects out of 570 pregnancies, or 0.5 percent.

Of the women taking pregabalin, 115 were taking it to treat neuropathic pain, 39 were taking it for psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and psychosis, five were taking it for epilepsy and one was taking it for restless leg syndrome.

A total of 77 percent of the women started taking pregabalin before they became pregnant. The women in the study stopped taking the drug at an average of six weeks into their pregnancies. Of the women taking pregabalin, 22, or 13 percent, were also taking another anti-seizure drug.

“We can’t draw any definitive conclusions from this study, since many of the women were taking other drugs that could have played a role in the birth defects and because the study was small and the results need to be confirmed with larger studies, but these results do signal that there may be an increased risk for major birth defects after taking pregabalin during the first trimester of pregnancy,” said study author Ursula Winterfeld, PhD, of the Swiss Teratogen Information Service and Lausanne University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Winterfeld said, “Pregabalin should be prescribed for women of child-bearing age only after making sure that the benefits of the drug outweigh the risks and after counseling them about using effective birth control. In cases where women have taken pregabalin during pregnancy, extra fetal monitoring may be warranted.”

To learn more about brain health, please visit

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of 30,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.