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Snoring During Pregnancy Linked To Reduced Fetal Growth

Pregnant women who snore are more likely than non-snorers to have pregnancy-related high blood pressure and are at increased risk of having an infant who is considered small for gestational age, researchers report.

Overweight women may be at particularly high risk, according to Dr. Karl A. Franklin of University Hospital in Umea, Sweden, and collegues.

"Women who reported habitual snoring were heavier before pregnancy and gained more weight during pregnancy," they report in the January issue of the journal chest.

Snoring is a common problem in pregnancy. The study of 502 women who had just given birth found that 23 per cent snored during pregnancy while just 4 per cent snored before they became pregnant.

Fourteen per cent of women who snored had high blood pressure compared with only 6 per cent of non-snorers, while preeclampsia developed in 10 per cent of snorers compared with 4 per cent of non-snorers, the researchers note. Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition characterized by elevated blood pressure, swelling in the hands, feet and face, and the presence of protein in the urine.

Examining the weight-for- gestational - age of babies born to women in the study, the authors report that fetal growth was slowed in 7.1 per cent of infants born to snoring women compared with 2.6 per cent born to non-snoring women.

Overall, habitual snoring during pregnancy was associated with double the risk for high blood pressure, and nearly 3.5 times the risk for slowed fetal growth, compared with non-snorers.

It is not clear if pregnancy-related high blood pressure leads to snoring by causing fluid build-up in the throat that narrows the airway or if snoring itself can actually lead to complications. The finding suggests that "upper airway resistance during sleep may affect the fetus and supports the previously suggested relationship between sleep apnea and intrauterine growth retardation, " Franklin and colleagues write.

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