Pregnant woman silhouetteSleep apnea causes serious risks for everyone, but now a new study highlights the magnitude of that risk for pregnant women. When expecting, the possibilty of sleep apnea definitely increases. Research from the University of South Florida shows that, among other things, sleep apnea increases the risk of a woman dying during maternal hospitalization by five times.

With maternal death rates on the rise, we need a solution to the problem, and perhaps sleep apnea treatment is that solution.

A Large, National Database

This study is based on a representative sample of maternal hospitalizations over a 12 year period, from 1998 to 2009, the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), a database used to look at many different aspects of healthcare. They found that sleep apnea increased the risk of maternal complications, including:

  • In-hospital death ~5
  • Cardiomyopathy 9.0
  • Pulmonary embolism 4.5
  • Preeclampsia 2.5 times higher risk
  • Eclampsia 5.4

In addition to showing these increased risks, the NIS showed that sleep apnea rates among pregnant women increased along with obesity rates from 0.7 % in 1998 to 7.3% in 2009.

Independent of Obesity

But researchers still wondered whether sleep apnea was to blame for increased risks or if both these risks and sleep apnea were due to obesity. But because this study looked at such a large number of records (approximately 55 million) they were able to determine that sleep apnea was associated with independently higher risks for almost all conditions. The only ones that weren’t related to sleep apnea were cesarean delivery, gestational hypertension, and stillbirth. When women had both obesity and sleep apnea, the effects were intensified for cardiovascular risks.

With many women developing sleep apnea during pregnancy, it’s important for them to talk to their doctors about sleep apnea to avoid these significantly increased risks. Hopefully future studies will focus on how treatment can reduce these risks.

To learn more about sleep apnea and its treatments, please call (303) 691-0267 today for an appointment at the TMJ Therapy and Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver.