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Losing sleep

A new study may reveal a genetic reason for why people with Fragile X syndrome and autism have trouble sleeping.

11:36am, June 26, 2008

If you’ve got rhythm, thank a pair of RNA-binding proteins. A new study in mice shows that the way these proteins function is crucial for synchronizing the biological clocks throughout a person’s body.

The study aimed to understand the source of a symptom in people with Fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited form of mental retardation and the most common known cause of autism. The syndrome is caused by a defect in a gene called fragile X mental retardation 1 or FMR1. People with the syndrome often have unusual sleeping patterns.

Parents often report that it takes two to four years for children with Fragile X syndrome to begin sleeping through the night. Typically developing children usually adopt normal sleep patterns by the time they are six to eight months old.

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