The prevalence of obesity in reproductive-aged women has increased in recent years. As a result, the prevalence of obesity-related comorbid conditions complicating pregnancy is also increasing. One of these conditions is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which refers to apnea (absent or severely reduced airflow) during sleep despite respiratory effort. OSA is characterized by repetitive partial or complete episodes of upper airway obstruction during sleep. The obstruction results in a reduction of airflow, hypoxemia, sympathetic discharge, and recurrent arousals from sleep. Central sleep apnea, which will not be reviewed here, is a different disorder that is defined by episodes of cessation of airflow due to absent breathing effort. (See "Sleep related breathing disorders in adults: Definitions".)
While the diagnosis and management of OSA are similar in pregnant and nonpregnant women, some aspects of the disorder are unique to pregnancy. This topic will discuss OSA in pregnancy. This discussion is limited by the scarcity of studies that address OSA in pregnant women; the only available data come from case studies, case series, small cohort studies, and a few small longitudinal studies. No population based epidemiological studies have been performed .
Detailed discussions of sleep related breathing disorders (eg, OSA, central sleep apnea) in nonpregnant individuals are available separately.
●(See "Overview of obstructive sleep apnea in adults".)
●(See "Sleep related breathing disorders in adults: Definitions".)