Covid-19 Office Updates Click Here

The Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time of big changes, especially to your body. One such change that is becoming more common in pregnant women is the onset of sleep apnea in pregnant women. While less common in the early stages of pregnancy, doctors are seeing an increase in cases of sleep apnea in later trimesters.

Recently, a team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin – Madison studied the link between sleep apnea, pregnant women, and their unborn babies.  What they found was very concerning.


The study used pregnant rats to monitor the effects of sleep apnea on developing offspring. What researchers found was that these unborn mice were deprived of the same oxygen their mothers were deprived of, causing impairment after birth. This impairment is similar in nature to autism markers in human children, and included behaviors such as altered distress vocalization, and social and cognitive issues in male rats (but notably, not in female rats).


The behavioral issues occurred alongside certain “significant abnormalities” in the neurons of mice of both genders but were found to be much more common in those of the male rats.


Affected rats also experienced heightened activity in their mTOR pathway, which is a cell signaling pathway that is found in the cortex of humans who have autism. Using a mTor inhibitor called rapamycin made minor improvements in these effects, but it is currently not known how the effects of maternal hypoxia even caused these changes in the rats.


So, what does this all mean for us humans with sleep apnea? While the study did not address what might happen if you treat your sleep apnea during pregnancy it goes without saying that leaving your sleep apnea untreated can be extremely dangerous. The lack of oxygen that occurs during a sleep apnea episode can cause everything from disrupted sleep to the worsening of conditions like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression. It can also cause cognitive problems during the waking hours, which can be very dangerous.


If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, pregnant or not, you owe it to yourself to get evaluated by a sleep professional and get treated. Dr. Peterson offers treatment solutions such as mandibular sleep orthotics which work to naturally prop open the airway during sleep, allowing the patient to get more air and increase oxygen levels.


To learn more about your options, contact Dr. Peterson’s office today!

Tagged with: , , , ,

Posted in: sleep apnea

Leave a response

Write to Us

Quick Contact

  • IMPORTANT: Please do not use this form to send sensitive personal information.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Make an Appointment

Download Forms

(435) 658-0678
1840 Sun Peak Dr., #B101, Park City, UT 84098

Get Directions

Call Now Button