A new study published in the journal, Molecular Psychiatry suggested that scientists have discovered a genetic marker which may make people susceptible to sleepwalking. Sleepwalking is a complex disorder and affects around half of young children and up to 3 per cent of adults. Though the condition is harmless, it may sometimes cause injuries to the person with the disorder or to others. Scientists examined a family of genes known as HLA genes, which provide the information needed to allow the body to create immune cells. These genes have also been linked to a number of sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy. They carried out tests on 60 people with a history of sleepwalking and 60 people without the condition to see if these genes also played a role in sleepwalking.
Researchers found that those who had the sleepwalking disorder were 3.5 times more likely to have a sub-type, called HLA-DQB1 and they believed that this variation in their genetic make-up leaves them more susceptible to sleep-walking. A Swiss scientist involved in the study added that the susceptibility to the condition is higher if there was a family history of sleepwalking. He also added that further research was needed before scientists could develop an effective treatment for the condition.