Snoring During Pregnancy Causes Cesarean Births and Delivering Smaller Babies, Study


Snoring during pregnancy three or more days a week leads to bad delivery outcomes, including Cesarean births (elective and emergency C-sections) and delivering smaller babies, according to a study by University of Michigan (U-M) Health System.

The study has been published in the scientific journal Sleep. This is the first study to establish a link between maternal snoring and baby health.

Mothers who snore before and during pregnancy are two thirds more likely to deliver a baby whose weight was "below the tenth percentile for babies of the same age". They are also more than twice as likely to require an elective Caesarean delivery, or C-section, compared with non-snorers.

"There has been great interest in the implications of snoring during pregnancy and how it affects maternal health but there is little data on how it may impact the health of the baby," lead author Louise O'Brien, Ph.D., M.S., associate professor at U-M's Sleep Disorders Center in the Department of Neurology and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the U-M Medical School, said in an official statement.

"We've found that chronic snoring is associated with both smaller babies and C-sections, even after we accounted for other risk factors. This suggests that we have a window of opportunity to screen pregnant women for breathing problems during sleep that may put them at risk of poor delivery outcomes."

The researchers arrived at the conclusion after studying 1,673 pregnant women from prenatal clinics at U-M between 2007 and 2010. Around 35 percent of them reported habitual snoring.

Researchers said that snoring is a sign of obstructive sleep apnoea (partially blocked airways) that could deprive unborn baby of oxygen. Pregnant women can be treated by using CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). The machine worn during sleep uses air pressure to keep the airways open.

"If we can identify risks during pregnancy that can be treated, such as obstructive sleep apnea, we can reduce the incidence of small babies, C-sections and possibly NICU admission that not only improve long term health benefits for newborns but also help keep costs down."

Snoring that reduces blood oxygen levels during the night is also responsible for other serious health problems, including high blood pressure and heart attacks.

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