I’ve written about the many dangers of untreated obstructive sleep apnea for adults and children, but what happens if you’re pregnant and have obstructive sleep apnea? A recent study showed that it can be very dangerous:
- Babies born to mothers with obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to be admitted to the neonatal ICU (46 vs. 18%)
- Mothers with sleep apnea had double the rate of c-sections compared with those that didn’t have sleep apnea (65 vs. 33%)
- 42% of those with sleep apnea had pre-eclampsia, compared with 17% that didn’t have sleep apnea.
- About 15% of pregnant women had obstructive sleep apnea. They were more likely to be obese and had high blood pressure
Additionally, this study didn’t include women with upper airway resistance syndrome, where they may not formally meet the official definition of obstructive sleep apnea (5 to 15 apneas and hypopneas per hour). You can stop breathing 20 to 30 times per hour and still not officially have sleep apnea.
Based on all these statistics, wouldn’t it make sense to routinely screen for obstructive sleep apnea if you’re pregnant, especially if you’re overweight? This study didn’t show that treating obstructive sleep apnea will lower complication rates, but it’s highly likely that that may be possible.