When you are pregnant, you might feel abnormally tired. That is often because your body is going through normal pregnancy changes. However, if you are tired and pregnant, it might also signal gestational sleep apnea. While researchers continue to look at the connection between sleep apnea complications and pregnancy, it is important to understand what information is out there. Let’s take a closer look.

What is Gestational Sleep Apnea?

The term gestational sleep apnea (GSA) allows health professionals to properly describe, diagnose and treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in women who are pregnant. This would also align with other diagnoses during pregnancy, such as gestational hypertension and diabetes mellitus. Unfortunately, though, there remains a lack of criteria to properly diagnose, treat and classify OSA in people who are pregnant.

This continues to complicate any efforts to determine risk factors for, and complications of, gestational sleep apnea. But we do know what the negative effects of untreated OSA are. Those include:

  • High blood pressure.
  • High blood sugar levels.
  • Heart disease.

With these negative effects, it is important to receive a proper diagnosis for gestational sleep apnea for proper treatment. 

Understanding the risk

There are about 15 million Americans and 350 million people worldwide with obstructive sleep apnea. That’s a lot of people. In fact, studies even indicate that one-fourth of people who are pregnant may suffer from GSA. In non-pregnant adults, there have been protocols put into place for proper screening, diagnosis and therapy. But in people who are pregnant, sleep apnea typically goes untreated since it is still undiagnosed and the risk factor for negative outcomes for both the mother and baby have not been determined. 

It is important to seek diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea in pregnant women for the health of both the mother and child. Maternal adverse effects can include more than five-fold increase for in-hospital mortality due to multiple diagnoses including cardiomyopathy and pulmonary embolism. 

Contact Dr. Mayoor Patel at Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia for more information.