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Pregnancy Complications

Hypertensive Disorders ~ PIH, Preeclampsia, Eclampsia, HELLP Syndrome

Snoring When Pregnant May Be Sign
of Pregnancy Induced Hypertension

Snoring can be a sign of a serious health problem, especially if you happen to be pregnant. According to a report in the January 2000 issue of Chest, snoring during pregnancy may be related to complications, such as hypertension and edema. The study also linked it to delivery of low birth-weight babies, who may also have lower Apgar scores.

Swedish researchers from the University Hospital in Umeå and the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm surveyed 502 women on the day they delivered their babies. Twenty-three percent of the women reported that they snored almost every night during the last week of their pregnancy. Of this group, 14 percent developed hypertension during their pregnancy, compared to six percent of the nonsnorers. Infants defined as small for gestational age were delivered to 7.1 percent of the mothers who habitually snored, compared to 2.6 percent of women who did not or rarely snored.

Preeclampsia, a pregnancy-related condition that involves hypertension, elevated protein levels, and frequent edema was found to be more than twice as common among the habitual snorers. They also tended to be heavier prior to pregnancy and gain more weight while pregnant, and their babies measured an average of seven on their Apgar scores, with ten being the highest number achievable. The Apgar score is taken at one and five minutes after birth, and measures criteria such as pulse, respirations, color, and general appearance.

Sleep apnea, a disorder in which a person periodically stops breathing while they are asleep and is often associated with loud snoring, was observed in 11 percent of the women. Snoring and sleep apnea are frequently caused by restriction or blockage of the upper airway. The researchers report that small infants and low Apgar scores were a novel finding that supports previous research suggesting a relationship between sleep apnea and retarded fetal growth.

The researchers also note that the association between snoring and pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia is also a novel finding. Since this subject has not been previously studied and due to the limitations and design of this study, the researchers admit that it is impossible to draw a firm conclusion. However, since all of the habitual snorers began to snore before any symptoms developed, they hypothesize that this indicates that upper airway obstruction may contribute to preeclampsia and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

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