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Study Reports Gestational Diabetes Increases Risk of Sleep Apnea by Seven Times

Update Date: Aug 21, 2013 02:08 PM EDT

During pregnancy, women might experience a lot of different kinds of complications. For some women, they might develop hypertension, preeclampsia (high blood pressure) or gestational diabetes. All of these health conditions could lead to severe complications if left unmonitored. According to a new study, pregnant women who have gestational diabetes increase their own risk of obstructive sleep apnea by seven times.

In this study, researchers looked for potential consequences of gestational diabetes, a condition in which glucose levels rise above the normal levels during the second and third trimesters. Gestational diabetes affects around four to eight per 100 pregnant women within the United States. The researchers recruited 45 women. 15 of them were pregnant women with gestational diabetes, another 15 were pregnant but did not have gestational diabetes and the last 15 were not pregnant and did not have the health condition. The researchers utilized a series of observational case control studies and discovered that a link between gestational diabetes and sleep apnea exists.

"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," researcher Sirimon Reutrakul, M.D. said according to Medical Xpress. Reutrakul conducted the study at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL. "Nearly 75 percent of the participants in our study who had gestational diabetes also suffered from obstructive sleep apnea."

The researchers also noted that the group of women with gestational diabetes tended to be either overweight or obese. The researchers found that pregnant women who did not have the health condition slept an hour more than pregnant women who were afflicted with gestational diabetes. Their sleep quality was also better.  The researchers believe that their findings point to a strong association between these two factors. They recommend that pregnant women with gestational diabetes be extra aware of their potential risk for sleep apnea and discuss these risks with their doctors.

The study was published in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM)

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