Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy Increases Risk for Complications

hypertension, pregnancy
hypertension, pregnancy
Risk for serious pregnancy complications, length of hospital stay, and intensive care unit admission are higher in in women with obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) increases risk for complications in pregnant women, according to research presented at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2017 International Conference, held May 19-24, in Washington, DC.1

Ghada Bourjeily, MD, and colleagues at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, analyzed 1,577,632 pregnancies in the US National Perinatal Information Center database from 2010 to 2014 to examine the association of OSA with adverse maternal outcomes.


There was a 0.1% overall rate of OSA. The researchers found that mothers with OSA were older (32.3±6.9 vs 29.6±6 years; P <.001) and more likely to be black (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.90; 95% CI, 1.72-2.11; P <.001) or smokers (aOR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.51-2.06; P <.001).

After adjusting for maternal obesity, there was a significant association between OSA and prepregnancy hypertension, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and chronic renal disease.

Similarly, there was also a significant association between OSA and gestational hypertensive disease and its complications, including preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, eclampsia, acute renal failure, pulmonary edema, and stroke. OSA also resulted in an increased risk for gestational diabetes.

Researchers noted that the length of hospital stay was significantly longer in mothers with OSA (5.1±5.6 vs 3.0±3.0; P <.001), and the odds of intensive care unit admission were also higher (aOR, 4.64; 95% CI, 4.03-5.35).

“Given that pregnancy is a ‘window’ into future cardiovascular and metabolic health, OSA is a diagnosis worthy of investigation in pregnancy,” said Dr Bourjeily in a press release.2 She further noted that “early intervention in these women, as well as in their children, may represent a great opportunity to offer treatment strategies that may offer long-term health benefits.”

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  1. Bourjeily G, Danilack V, Caldwell D, Muri J. Obstructive sleep apnea in pregnancy is associated with adverse maternal outcomes: a national cohort. Presented at: American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2017 International Conference; Washington DC; May 19-24. Abstract 5163.
  2. Sleep apnea may increase risk of pregnancy complications [press release]. New York, NY: American Thoracic Society. Published May 22, 2017. Accessed May 22, 2017.