A change in your night time routine may indicate an increased risk for some serious pregnancy complications. And it may be something that you would never think to bring up with your doctor.
We know that pregnancy often brings symptoms like fatigue, that intense feeling that you’re in need of an afternoon nap! But if you notice another change in your sleep patterns, and your partner notices, it’s a good idea to discuss with your doctor.
A new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology indicates that a new onset of snoring during pregnancy was strongly linked to some pretty serious pregnancy complications.
Lead author Louise O’Brien, Ph.D., associate professor in University of Michigan’s Sleep Disorders Center conducted a study, with more than 1,700 participants, to examine the link between snoring that started during pregnancy, high blood pressure, and preeclampsia.
“We found that frequent snoring was playing a role in high blood pressure problems, even after we had accounted for other known risk factors,” says O’Brien. “And we already know that high blood pressure in pregnancy, particularly preeclampsia, is associated with smaller babies, higher risks of pre-term birth or babies ending up in the ICU.”
The study is the largest of its kind and it is the first study to demonstrate that pregnancy-onset snoring brings a significant risk to maternal cardiovascular health. This study suggests that up to 19% of “hypertensive disorders during pregnancy including preeclampsia” might lessen through treatment of underlying sleep-disordered breathing, like snoring.
Habitual snoring, the hallmark symptom of sleep-disordered breathing, was defined as snoring three to four nights a week.
The study showed that habitual snoring begins in about 25 % of women during pregnancy and that this doubled the risk for developing high blood pressure when this factor was compared to non-snoring pregnant women.
O’Brian has another study under way which looks at whether treatment of sleep-disordered breathing may decrease high blood pressure in pregnant woman. Currently pregnant women can be treated using CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) which involves using a machine, worn during sleep, that inserts mild air pressure into the airways to keep them open.
It is possible that use of CPAP may decrease high blood pressure in pregnant women, and O’Brien has such a study currently under way to test this hypothesis.
So ladies, if your partner starts to complain that your snoring sounds like a chainsaw, it may be time for a doctor’s appointment. O’Brian adds, “by asking pregnant women about snoring, especially in those with high blood pressure already, obstetric healthcare providers could identify women at high risk for sleep-disordered breathing and intervene during the pregnancy. This could result in better outcomes for mother and baby.”
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