Preeclampsia is a potentially dangerous condition during pregnancy that can lead to life-threatening high blood pressure, kidney failure, and fetal growth delay. Dr. Colin Sullivan (the inventor of the CPAP machine) has published a series of studies on the beneficial effects of using CPAP to control preeclampsia. In his latest study, he and his colleagues showed that fetal movements were significantly lower in mothers with preeclampsia compares to controls. Using CPAP at relatively low pressures significantly increased the number of fetal movements. Over the course of the night, women not on CPAP had progressively lower fetal movements, whereas those on CPAP had progressively increased fetal movements.
Just like in their previous studies, many of these women had only mild obstructive sleep apnea. Some did not have sleep apnea at all. However, the vast majority had what’s called inspiratory flow limitation, where there is partial obstruction to inhalation, but not meeting the criteria for an apneas (10 second pauses and/or lowered oxygen levels).
It’s likely that they are treating is upper airway resistance syndrome, with multiple partial obstructions and arousals that don’t present as classic obstructive sleep apnea.
It’s disappointing that despite this important information about pre-eclampsia, there’s been no significant movement to look for sleep-related breathing disorders in preeclamptic women.
If you ever had preeclampsia during pregnancy, did your doctor ever ask about your snoring or sleep quality?