Gestational Diabetes More Common in Pregnant Snorers

Pregnant women snore a lot, which puts them at higher risk for gestational diabetes, concludes a recent study. Pregnant snorers therefore have increased risk for various future health problems, as do their children.

Snoring, as well as sleep apnea in general (irregular breathing during sleep), has been linked to cardiovascular problems, and less definitively, diabetes, in people of all ages, race and sex. Many pregnant women who previously were non-snorers, snore during pregnancy, but this short term snoring had not previously been linked to any major health problems.

The current study has shown that a higher percentage of snoring pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, which describes high blood glucose levels during pregnancy, than non-snorers. Gestational diabetes is treatable, but when improperly controlled, babies of these mothers are at increased risk for various conditions, such as large birth weight, jaundice and future obesity. Mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease after pregnancy.

Observations were fairly compelling in the study. Of the 189 pregnant women who participated, 14.3% of pregnant snorers developed gestational diabetes, compared to only 3.3% of pregnant non-snorers. This may activate your sympathetic nervous system, so your blood pressure rises at night.

The study authors explain that the common weight gain associated with pregnancy, as well as increased edema (internal fluid buildup), which causes blockage of airway passages, are most responsible for the high incidence of snoring in pregnant women. Says principal investigator Dr. Francesca Fracco, “Snoring may be a sign of poor air flow and diminished oxygenation during sleep that can cause a cascade of events in your body. This may activate your sympathetic nervous system, so your blood pressure rises at night. This can also provoke inflammatory and metabolic changes, increasing the risk of diabetes or poor sugar tolerance.”

As in moderate cases of type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes can be controlled through monitoring blood glucose levels, and compensating for high blood glucose levels with proper dietary control. These controlled nutritional intakes, especially for snoring pregnant women, could help maintain quality of life for the mothers, and maybe save the lives of their children.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Fracco, Francesca. Paul, Marla. Northwestern University news release. June 2009.