Women diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy are seven times more likely to develop sleep apnea than other pregnant women, a new study finds.
The research, slated for publication in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found gestational diabetes translates to at least an hour of sleep lost each night to obstructive sleep apnea, which causes brief interruptions in breathing. Untreated, apnea raises the risk for stroke, cardiovascular disease, and heart attacks.
"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 Sirimon Reutrakul, M.D., who conducted the research at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. "Nearly 75 percent of the participants in our study who had gestational diabetes also suffered from obstructive sleep apnea."
Gestational diabetes typically occurs during the second trimester of pregnancy, striking up to 8 percent of women. For the study, researchers monitored 45 women for sleep apnea. One third of the women were pregnant and had gestational diabetes, another 15 pregnant women did not have the condition, and 15 others were healthy and not expecting.
The results showed a strong association between apnea and gestational diabetes, while pregnant women without the condition had less fragmented sleep.
"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.
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