A new study has found that 50% of hypertensive pregnant women who snore may actually be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. One in four hypertensive pregnant women who don't snore also unknowingly suffer from the sleeping disorder, according to the study that appears in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
"We know that habitual snoring is linked with poor pregnancy outcomes for both mother and child, including increased risk of C-sections and smaller babies," says lead author Louise O'Brien, Ph.D., M.S., associate professor at U-M's Sleep Disorders Center in the Department of Neurology and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the U-M Medical School.
"Our findings show that a substantial proportion of hypertensive pregnant women have obstructive sleep apnea and that habitual snoring may be one of the most telling signs to identify this risk early in order to improve health outcomes."
Habitual snoring – snoring three or more nights a week – is the hallmark symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, which has been shown to increase in frequency during pregnancy. and affects up to one-third of women by the third trimester.
O'Brien's previous studies have found that snoring during pregnancy may influence delivery and baby's health, with a higher risk for C-sections and delivering smaller babies. Women who begin snoring during pregnancy are also at a strong risk for high blood pressure and preeclampsia, O'Brien's research has shown.
"Hypertensive pregnant women who report snoring should be evaluated for obstructive sleep apnea since sleep apnea can be treated during pregnancy," says O'Brien, who is also a member of the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.