Gestational diabetes linked to seven-fold increase in sleep apnea

Women with gestational diabetes are about seven times more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, according to a recent study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Sleep apnea, which causes brief interruptions in breathing during sleep, can cause poor sleeping patterns and result in daytime sleepiness or lethargy. Obstructive sleep apnea, where the breathing airway collapses or becomes blocked, usually occurs more in people who are overweight or obese, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Gestational diabetes

If sleep apnea is not treated, it can raise a person's risk for stroke, heart attacks and cardiovascular disease, which is especially concerning for pregnant women.

"It is common for pregnant women to experience sleep disruptions, but the risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea increases substantially in women who have gestational diabetes," said lead study author Sirimon Reutrakul, M.D., in a statement. "Nearly 75 percent of the participants in our study who had gestational diabetes also suffered from obstructive sleep apnea."

After monitoring the sleeping habits of 45 women – 15 who were pregnant with gestational diabetes, 15 who were pregnant without gestational diabetes and 15 who were not pregnant and did not have diabetes – the researchers found the strongest association between obstructive sleep apnea and women who were overweight or obese with gestational diabetes.

Early monitoring is key

Past research has pointed to the fact that interrupted sleep or lack of sleep can raise a person's risk for diabetes, the team noted.

"Based on these findings, women who have gestational diabetes should be considered for evaluation for obstructive sleep apnea, especially if other risk factors such as hypertension or obesity are present, and women already diagnosed with sleep apnea should be monitored for signs of gestational diabetes during pregnancy," Reutrakul said.

Results of the study are published in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Source: Endocrine Society

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