Numerous physiologic and anatomic changes during pregnancy exacerbate or unmask obstructive sleep apnea in women. Left untreated, upper airway flow limitation during pregnancy may lead to dire maternal and fetal health consequences. Areas covered: This review outlines the relationship between sleep disordered breathing (SDB) and gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes. It also discusses the implications of SDB on fetal and maternal health and concludes with a review of the emerging literature of treatment options for SDB in pregnancy and its benefit. Expert commentary: Providers should screen, recognize, and treat SDB in pregnant women given its implicated risk on maternal and fetal health. This is particularly true in preeclampsia, a leading cause of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality where SDB has been shown to add risk and severity. It is important to note that repetitive upper airway flow limitations in pregnancy are associated with surges in nocturnal blood pressure and poor maternal and fetal outcomes, and may be just as detrimental as frank apneas/hypopneas. Future large, prospective, randomized controlled studies on the effects of CPAP are still needed. The epidemiology of SDB in pregnant women needs to be further studied, as well as highlighting the need for systematic, long-term follow ups on mother and infant health post-delivery.
View details for PubMedID 29363362