Pregnant women who snore
three or more nights a week are more likely to have a Caesarean section and
smaller babies, a new study finds.
The findings suggest that
treating snoring in pregnant women may help reduce health problems among
newborns and the associated medical costs, according to the University of
Michigan Health System researchers.
They looked at 1 673
pregnant women, 35% of whom reported regular snoring. Compared to
non-snorers, those who snored before and during pregnancy (chronic snorers)
were two-thirds more likely to have a small baby and more than twice as likely
to have an elective C-section.
The study, published in the journal Sleep, is believed to be the largest of its
kind to link a mother's snoring to her baby's health.
"There has been great
interest in the implications of snoring during pregnancy and how it affects
maternal health, but there is little data on how it may impact the health of
the baby," lead author Louise O'Brien, an associate professor at U-M's Sleep
Disorders Centre and an adjunct associate professor in the obstetrics and gynaecology,
said in a university news release.
Window of opportunity
"We've found that
chronic snoring is associated with both smaller babies and C-sections, even
after we accounted for other risk factors. This suggests that we have a window
of opportunity to screen pregnant women for breathing problems during sleep
that may put them at risk of poor delivery outcomes," she explained.
A previous study led by
O'Brien found that women who begin snoring during pregnancy are at high risk
for high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia a condition in which a pregnant
woman experiences sharp rises in blood pressure along with protein in her urine
and other symptoms.
Snoring is a key sign of
obstructive sleep apnoea, which can be treated using continuous positive airway
"Millions of health
care dollars are spent on operative deliveries, taking care of babies who are
admitted to the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit] and treating secondary
health problems that smaller babies are at risk for when grown," O'Brien
"If we can identify
risks during pregnancy that can be treated, such as obstructive sleep apnoea,
we can reduce the incidence of small babies, C-sections and possibly NICU
admission that not only improve long-term health benefits for newborns but
also help keep costs down," she said.
While the study found
associations between snoring in pregnancy and an increased likelihood of
C-section delivery and smaller babies, it did not establish a cause-and-effect
The American Academy of
Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery has more about snoring.
(Picture: Sleeping pregnant woman from Shutterstock)