According to research on the pooled results from a number of recent studies, gestational hypertension and diabetes is much more common in women who experience sleep apnoea during pregnancy.
Gestational hypertension was found more than twice as often in women with sleep disordered breathing (SDB) conditions and gestational diabetes almost twice as often, compared against women without SDB during pregnancy.
The pooled results of the studies also suggest low-birth-weight infants might be more common among women with sleep apnoea during pregnancy, according to Dr Sushmita Pamidi of McGill University in Montreal, when reporting to the American Thoracic Society international conference.
As many as a third of women report snoring during the third trimester of pregnancy. Common explanations include weight gain, oedema (swelling and fluid retention) and hormonal influences.
Dr Pamidi and his colleagues undertook a thorough review of 31 previous studies to determine whether there was a link between SDB and pregnancy outcomes. All studies found an adverse link between sleep apnoea and gestational hypertension, sleep apnoea and gestational diabetes and, to a lesser extent, sleep apnoea and low birth weights.
According to Dr Pamidi, "I think we have learned that there are associations between sleep apnea and gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension, and, to a smaller degree, perhaps to low-birth-weight infants." He went on to point out, "The main limitation is that most of the studies are small. Nonetheless, we were able to find a signal, which is a good impetus for having larger trials and bigger cohort studies.”