Sawing Logs-Snoring and Preeclampsia

You're sleeping peacefully and then suddenly you are awakened by a very strange sound-and it's coming from you! If this is happening, you are among the many women who experience pregnancy snoring. To begin snoring while you are pregnant is not an uncommon experience. Nearly 30 percent of women who are pregnant end up snoring before the pregnancy is over and it increases especially in the third trimester.

The Connection Between Snoring And Preeclampsia

Snoring is particularly related to preeclampsia, also known as toxemia. Researchers at the Umea University Hospital in Sweden looked into the connection between snoring and preeclampsia, a condition that only occurs during pregnancy. While preeclampsia is not directly diagnosable, it has some consistent characteristics which include elevated blood pressure, protein in the urine and swelling. Along with these standard characteristics, a woman may have any or all of these symptoms as well: daytime sleepiness, headaches, vision problems, liver function abnormalities and vomiting. No one symptom alone is an indication that a woman has preeclampsia.

A Swedish Study Provides Some Solid Evidence

A Swedish study was conducted with 500 women and it discovered some interesting facts about snoring and preeclampsia in pregnancy. The results of the study showed 23 percent of women said their snoring became habitual during the last week before they delivered their baby. Sleep apnea was observed in 11 percent of habitual snorers and in only two percent of women who were not frequent snorers. It was also noted that women who snored had more pronounced weight gains during their pregnancy.

Hypertension induced by pregnancy was discovered in 14 percent of the women in the study as compared to six percent in non-frequent snorers. Ten percent of women who habitually snored met the definition of preeclampsia with hypertension and proteinuria (protein in the urine) while only four percent of women who were not habitual snorers were defined in that manner. Edema (water retention) was also more prevalent in women who snored.

How Babies Are Affected

Babies who were born to mothers who snored had lower birth weight and lower Apgar scores. Growth retardation at birth, even after adjusting for weight, age, and smoking habits of the mother, remained higher in women who snored. Researchers also noted that all of the subjects in the study who snored habitually and had preeclampsia started to snore before any sign of hypertension or proteinuria was present.

More research at the Edinburgh Sleep Center found that upper airways narrow when women are in their third trimester of pregnancy. Women with preeclampsia were found to have even more narrow airways than women without preeclampsia. It is of interest to note that there is a definite link between how people breathe and the effect on different body functions. There is a proven correlation between poor breathing and high blood pressure, increased liver workload, fluid retention, and constriction of the smooth muscles including the airways and snoring. All of these conditions are consistent with preeclampsia.

Along with the physical changes which affect breathing in pregnant women, hormonal changes, fluid retention and diet also affect breathing. Often breathing difficulties can be addressed by some basic lifestyle changes.


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