Sleep Apnoea's wake up call

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1. Summary

During pregnancy, women’s sleep becomes disrupted. As their baby grows, they become increasingly uncomfortable. They are also more likely to snore and have disrupted breathing in their sleep, which is known as sleep apnoea.


After monitoring the sleep of more than 200 pregnant women, I have found that around 16 percent of women get sleep apnoea in late pregnancy. The interesting question is whether having sleep apnoea leads to any extra risk for mothers and their babies. My research suggests it does, and that women with sleep apnoea have babies that are more likely to be admitted to special care nursery with breathing problems. Women with sleep apnea are also at an increased risk of depressive symptoms during pregnancy. In fact, in pregnancy, my research shows that having sleep apnea means women are between 5 and 6 times more likely to have depressive symptoms severe enough to warrant referral to a psychologist. 


These findings need to be replicated in other studies, and further work is required to investigate the longer-term effects of sleep apnoea in pregnancy. But the results are exciting given that sleep apnoea is treatable, and treatment may improve outcomes for both mothers and their babies. 

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