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Sleep Apnea And Obesity May Lead To Pregnancy And Neonatal Risks

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that causes people to stop breathing for intermittent periods while sleeping. Although sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed, a study concluded that it raises big risks for some expectant mothers here in Ohio and around the country. These risks include preeclampsia and post-birth intensive care hospitalization.

The study surveyed 175 pregnant women. All of them were obese and 15 percent of the participants also suffered from obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is one of many health risks associated with obesity. The researchers found that the women who suffered from sleep apnea were at much higher risk of various prenatal and neonatal dangers.

Women with sleep apnea were almost twice as likely to require a C-section. Around 65 percent of the sleep apnea sufferers required a C-section compared with only 33 percent of other women. Preeclampsia rates also increased dramatically with 42 percent of sleep apnea sufferers experiencing the dangerous condition. Only 17 percent of other women developed preeclampsia.

Researchers also found that infants born to women who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are more likely to face significant health problems. Almost half of all infants born to sleep apnea sufferers were hospitalized in neonatal intensive care units compared with only 18 percent of other infants. The study did note, however, that this higher number could result from the increased rate of C-sections.

Mothers with indicators of obesity or sleep apnea should remain vigilant for symptoms of pregnancy complications. If medical professionals fail to respond to developing complications, mothers and infants can face serious injuries.

Source: Huffington Post, "Sleep Apnea In Pregnancy May Harm Mom And Baby, Study Finds," Sept. 20, 2012 

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