When I was little, my best friend and I were constantly amused by her mother’s ability to drown out the T.V. with her snoring. Apparently, when she was pregnant with my friend’s younger brothers, her snoring got even worse. When she had her twins, she had a C-section, though it wasn’t necessarily due to her snoring. However, new research suggests that women who snore during pregnancy are more likely to have C-sections and babies with lower birth weight.

Research done through the University of Michigan Health System has found that some adverse delivery outcomes in pregnant women who snore three or more nights a week. The most common outcomes have been low birth weight and birth via C-section, though it can also predict risk of high blood pressure and preeclampsia as well. Researchers are unaware if snoring causes low birth weight and elective C-sections, or if snoring is just a symptom of existing issues.

Women who are chronic snorers are two-thirds more likely to experience these delivery outcomes compared to women who only snore during pregnancy. Dr. Louise O'Brien, lead author of the study and associate professor at U-M's Sleep Disorders Center in the Department of Neurology and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the U-M Medical School says that they “found that chronic snoring is associated with both smaller babies and C-sections, even after we accounted for other risk factors. This suggests that we have a window of opportunity to screen pregnant women for breathing problems during sleep that may put them at risk of poor delivery outcomes."

The study included 1,673 pregnant women recruited from the prenatal clinics at U-M between 2007 and 2010. Out of the participating women, 35% reported chronic snoring. This was crucial to note since timing of snoring patterns made a difference in the likelihood of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Snoring is often the key sign for sleep apnea which can reduce blood oxygen levels at night and is associated with several different serious health conditions, especially for pregnant women. The only preventive measure right now for pregnant women who snore is continuous positive airway pressure which is done through a machine that uses air pressure to keep the airways open during sleep.

"If we can identify risk factors during pregnancy that can be treated, such as obstructive sleep apnea, we can reduce the incidence of small babies, C-sections and possibly NICU admission that not only improve long term health benefits for newborns but also help keep costs down,” says O’Brien.

Source: University of Michigan Health System (2013, October 31). Pregnant women who snore at higher risk for C-sections, delivering smaller babies. ScienceDaily.