Sleep Care

OSA and Gestational Diabetes

One of the most common health risks in pregnant women is gestational diabetes, which affects between 2 and 10 percent of expecting mothers. Gestational diabetes is most common in the second trimester of pregnancy. Glucose screening tests are popular between 24 and 28 weeks because there are no glaring symptoms of gestational diabetes and the mother is considered high risk if she is obese, has a strong family history of diabetes, or had gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies. Gestational diabetes needs to be monitored for the health of the mother and her baby. New research has also shown it can even complicate sleeping by increasing the risk of sleep apnea in expecting mothers. Gestational diabetes causes glucose levels in the blood stream to rise above the normal levels. When a person eats, their digestive system breaks down the food into a sugar called glucose. Glucose is a source of fuel for the body and cells. This process is aided by insulin (a hormone in the body). If a body doesn’t produce insulin, or enough insulin, then too much glucose remains in the blood stream, rather than being converted into energy. When a woman is pregnant, hormones change and sometimes make cells less responsive to insulin. If the glucose levels in the blood become too high because of this, it results in gestational diabetes. After the baby is born most women don’t remain diabetic, but if they do experience gestational diabetes they run a higher risk of suffering from it again in future pregnancies and higher risk of developing diabetes later in life. Recently a study was conducted by Sirimon Reutrakul, MD at Rush University Medical Center

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in Chicago that shows a link between gestational diabetes and OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). Forty-five women were monitored for

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sleep apnea and also other sleep disruptions in a series of observational control studies. Overall sleep health was closely examined in 15 women who were neither pregnant or had gestational diabetes, 15 women who were both pregnant and had gestational diabetes, and 15 women who were pregnant but did not have gestational diabetes. Overall, women who had gestational diabetes were nearly seven times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than the group of just pregnant women. Also the group of pregnant women without gestational diabetes, on average slept an additional hour of sleep and had less fragmented sleep than the group with gestational diabetes. Signs of sleep apnea such as lost sleep or fragmented sleep has been shown in past research to raise the risk of developing diabetes as well. PregnantQuality and restful sleep while pregnant is vital for both the expecting mother and unborn child. Dr. Reutrakul stated, “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.”

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He went on to say, “Nearly 75 percent of the participants in our study who had gestational diabetes also suffered from obstructive sleep apnea.” If risk factors such as obesity or family history of diabetes are present or the pregnant woman has gestational diabetes, it is very important to evaluate for possible OSA to help ensure the health and sleep of the mother to be. If you have gestational diabetes or any of the risk factors mentioned, speak to your doctor about your risk for OSA.

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