If you are pregnant and tired it’s because your body is simply going through normal pregnancy changes, right? It’s possible. However, if you are tired and pregnant it might also be gestational sleep apnea. Researchers continue to advance their knowledge of sleep apnea complications and continue to raise awareness for sleep apnea in pregnant women.

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 pregnant women. This would also parallel other established transient diagnoses of pregnancy, such as gestational hypertension and diabetes mellitus. There remains a lack of criteria to properly diagnose, treat and classify OSA in the pregnant population.

In turn, this continues to complicate any efforts to determine risk factors for, and complications of, gestational sleep apnea. The negative effects of untreated OSA 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.

What is the risk?

Approximately 15 million Americans and 350 million people worldwide currently suffer from OSA, which is a lot of people. Recent studies even indicate that ¼ of pregnant women may suffer from GSA. In non-pregnant adults, there have been protocols put into place for proper screening, diagnosis and therapy. However, in pregnant women, 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.

Many doctors and patients might attribute daytime tiredness to “just being pregnant”, rather than a sleep apnea diagnosis. Educate yourselves and visit a doctor for proper diagnosis and recommendations.

You can also contact Dr. Patel at Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia for more information and to learn how you can treat sleep apnea during pregnancy.