Researchers find genetic cause for sleepwalking

Sleepwalkers share a faulty chromosome, according to new research from the Washington University School of Medicine appearing in the journal Neurology. Following a study of four generations of the same family, researchers have narrowed down the variation to a section of chromosome 20.

Just one copy of the defective chromosome is enough to cause sleepwalking, the researchers said. They hope to target the genes involved and find new treatments for the condition that affects up to 10 percent of children and one in 50 adults.

"It is likely that several genes will be involved. What we have found is the first genetic locus for sleepwalking," researcher Christina Gurnett told the BBC. "We do not know yet which of the genes in this linkage region of chromosome 20 will be responsible. Until we find the gene we won't know whether this accounts for several families or a large number of families who have sleepwalking. But discovering these genes could help with identifying and treating the condition."

- read a report from the BBC