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Gestational Diabetes Tied to Seven-Fold Increase in Sleep Apnea Risk

Gestational Diabetes

Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes are nearly seven times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than other pregnant women, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Gestational diabetes causes glucose levels in the bloodstream to rise above normal levels. This form of diabetes occurs during pregnancy, typically in the second trimester.

The new study found a link between gestational diabetes and sleep apnea, which causes brief interruptions in breathing during sleep. If sleep apnea goes untreated, it can raise the risk for stroke, cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.

“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,” said Sirimon Reutrakul, MD, who conducted the research at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

The study found a strong association between obstructive sleep apnea and gestational diabetes in this group of mostly overweight or obese women.

Pregnant women who did not have gestational diabetes were able to get an additional hour of sleep and had less fragmented sleep than women who had gestational diabetes.

“Based on these findings, women who have gestational diabetes should be considered for evaluation for obstructive sleep apnea, especially if other risk factors such as hypertension or obesity are present, and women already diagnosed with sleep apnea should be monitored for signs of gestational diabetes during pregnancy,” Reutrakul said.

More information: The article, “Interactions between Pregnancy, Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus,” was published online Aug. 20.

Journal information: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

Provided by The Endocrine Society

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