What Snoring Means for Expecting Moms

Snoring during pregnancy may indicate higher risk of C section

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D. Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Snoring can be more than just an annoyance to others trying to sleep in the same room. For pregnant women, snoring could indicate certain higher risks.

A recent study found that pregnant women who snored, both before and during pregnancy, had a higher risk of having a cesarean section or an underweight baby.

Even women who didn't normally snore but began snoring while pregnant had a slightly higher likelihood of having a C-section.

Snoring is considered sleep-disordered breathing. It can be an indication of other underlying health concerns.

Informing your doctor of whether you snore may help in assessing your risk of certain pregnancy outcomes.

"Tell your OB/GYN if you snore."

The study, led by Louise M. O'Brien, PhD, of the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, looked at how pregnant women's outcomes differed based on whether they snored during pregnancy.

The researchers assessed 1,673 women for snoring and then compared how their pregnancies and deliveries went.

Of these women, 35 percent had habitual snoring, which was broken down into 26 percent who only began snoring during pregnancy and 9 percent who had always snored.

The researchers made adjustments to account for differences among the women's age, race/ethnicity, weight before becoming pregnant, educational level, and personal or family history of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or C-section delivery.

Preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are two types of pregnancy complications.

The researchers also took into account the number of times the women had been pregnant before and whether they smoked or not.

After these adjustments, the researchers found that women who had always snored (even before pregnancy) had 65 percent greater odds than non-snorers of having a baby that was "small for gestational age."

This means that the baby was underweight for the week of pregnancy when the baby was born.

In addition, the odds of having a C-section were more than twice as high for always-snoring pregnant women than those who were not chronic snorers.

The odds of a C-section were 68 percent higher for women who snored only during pregnancy but had not snored previously, compared to pregnant women who didn't snore at all.

The researchers therefore determined that snoring during pregnancy could be a risk factor for having an underweight baby or requiring a C-section.

William Kohler, MD, the medical director of the Florida Sleep Institute in Spring Hill, Florida, said this study's findings are important, but he was disappointed that the researchers did not discuss how important treatment for the snoring can be.

"The bottom line is that if the pregnant woman snores, she should be evaluated and appropriately treated because, as the article pointed out, there is an increase in the potential for hypertension and pre-eclampsia as well as the abnormality in the fetus," Dr. Kohler said. "Previous studies have shown that the treatment will improve the pre-eclampsia,"

If sleep apnea is identified as a condition the woman has, the most common treatment is continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, Dr. Kohler said. With CPAP, a person wears a mask that sends air into the person's air passageways while the person is asleep.

"Not only do we need to be aware of the significant morbidity with snoring but that it should be rapidly evaluated and effectively treated," he said.

The study was published in the November issue of Sleep. The research was funded by the Gene and Tubie Gilmore Fund for Sleep Research, the University of Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

The lead author has received equipment from Philips Respironics Inc. and is an advisory board member for the nonprofit Star Legacy Foundation.

Another author has received equipment for research from Cura Surgical.

A third author has received research funding from Philips Respironics Inc. and Fisher Paykel Inc., advises the nonprofit Sweet Dreamzzz Inc. and receives fees for technology licensed by Zansors Inc.

No other potential conflicts of interest were reported for the authors.

Review Date: 
November 10, 2013
Last Updated:
November 21, 2013