A new study has found that women who suffer from sleep apnea during pregnancy are more likely to develop gestational diabetes, hypertension, and preeclampsia–three medical conditions that can be dangerous for both the mother and the unborn baby if not properly treated.
While researchers are sure that the existence of sleep apnea significantly increases the chances of these three ailments, they are not sure how the diseases are connected and whether sleep apnea directly causes high blood pressure or diabetes.
A Closer Look At The Pregnancy & Sleep Apnea Study
The study, which was conducted by lead study author Dr. Francesca Facco of the University of Pittsburgh’s Magee-Women’s Hospital, and which appeared in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, followed 3,000 women through their pregnancies, giving them home sleep tests twice–once during early pregnancy and once during late pregnancy.
The study found that women who showed signs of moderate to severe sleep apnea were 3.5 times more likely to develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy, 75 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure, and almost twice as likely to suffer from preeclampsia.
The study also found that sleep apnea can become worse over the course of pregnancy, as women gain weight, have more pressure on their chests, and have changes to their body chemistry. Women who showed signs of sleep apnea earlier in their pregnancy were even more likely to develop complications with high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
The Connection Between Sleep Apnea & Pregnancy Complications
After concluding the study, scientists are more sure than ever about a connection between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and pregnancy complications like diabetes and preeclampsia. However, they stressed that the connections are not necessarily causal.
“Although we found an association with sleep disordered breathing preceding the development of both pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders and gestational diabetes, we cannot conclude that universal screening for, and treatment of sleep disordered breathing in pregnancy would reduce the risks of these adverse outcomes,” said Facco, regarding the connection between sleep apnea and pregnancy complications.
In other words, it is not clear that the sleep apnea causes the problems, or that treating the sleep apnea would help to lower the chances of developing the problems. However, many medical professionals agree that obesity has been clearly linked with the development of sleep apnea as well as the risk of preeclampsia, high blood pressure, and diabetes. beginning pregnancy at a healthy weight and gaining an appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy may be two ways to lower the chance of a dangerous complication.
Surgical Sleep Solutions For Sleep Apnea
While sleep apnea surgery is not appropriate for women who are pregnant, surgery to treat OSA may be an ideal option for women who have the sleep disorder who are planning to become pregnant or for women who are looking for a solution after having a baby. To learn more about sleep apnea treatment options, please contact us today by calling 855-560-7378 or by filling out our form below.