Pregnancy Snores Sound a Warning

Snoring during pregnancy may indicate a higher risk of high blood pressure or preeclampsia

(RxWiki News) A small percentage of the population snores even without having an underlying sleep problem. But a woman who starts snoring during pregnancy may want to talk to her doctor about it.

A recent study found that women were more likely to have high blood pressure during pregnancy if they start snoring after becoming pregnant.

The research authors suggested that treating underlying sleep breathing issues might help reduce up to one fifth (19 percent) of the pregnancy complications related to high blood pressure.

"Talk to your doctor about snoring."

The study, led by Louise O'Brien, PhD, an associate professor at the University of Michigan's Sleep Disorders Center, wanted to look at any links that might exist between snoring during pregnancy and high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes.

The researchers looked at data for 1,719 pregnant women in their third trimester between March 2007 and December 2010.

They gathered information on whether the women habitually snored and whether they had pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes.

Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication that involves high blood pressure and protein in a woman's urine. It can be dangerous if untreated, but the only treatment is to have the baby.

The researchers defined "habitual snoring" as snoring three to four nights each week.

A total of 34 percent of these women reported snoring, and 25 percent of them started snoring after they became pregnant.

These women who began snoring during pregnancy were a little more than twice as likely to have high blood pressure and 1.5 times more likely to have pre-eclampsia than those who did not snore or who had already snored before pregnancy.

There was no association with gestational diabetes, and women who were chronic snorers before getting pregnant did not appear to have any increased risk for any of the conditions.

Of the women who began snoring during pregnancy, 10.6 percent developed high blood pressure, and 13.3 percent developed pre-eclampsia.

Only 4.5 percent of the women who didn't snore at all and 7.2 percent of the pre-pregnancy snorers developed high blood pressure. Pre-eclampsia occurred for 8.2 percent of the non-snorers and 11.8 percent of the chronic snorers before pregnancy.

The results were adjusted to account for the women's age, their weeks of pregnancy when they gave birth, how many children they already had and their weight.

The most common way to treat sleep-disordered breathing is with use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP is delivered through a machine which requires a prescription and can cost anywhere from $150 to over $5,500.

Most insurance plans will cover some or all of the expense of a CPAP machine and the mask, which ranges from $30 to $200.

The study was published September 25 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The research was funded by the Gene and Tubie Gilmore Fund for Sleep Research at the University of Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research and by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
October 21, 2012