Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pregnancy May Invalidate Sleep Apnea Screening Tool

A new study by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine shows that the Berlin Sleep Questionnaire, which is a common screening tool, does not accurately identity sleep apnea in pregnant women.

Past studies using the questionnaire connected sleep apnea during pregnancy with infants born small. Some of these studies also connected sleep apnea with a mother’s risk for a pregnancy complication called preeclampsia.

The lead author, Dr. Kjersti Aagaard, explained in a press release that his team sought to validate the questionnaire in pregnant women. The form asks questions about snoring, sleepiness and excess weight, which are common complaints in pregnant women. So they suspected that the observed complication rate might not have been caused by the sleep apnea.

The study included 100 women in the last third of pregnancy. The women took the questionnaire, and then underwent sleep apnea and fetal heart rate monitoring for at least three hours.

Results indicated that the questionnaire did not accurately screen for sleep apnea. It identified just over one-third of women who actually had sleep apnea and just under two-thirds of those who did not have the condition.

The researchers also found no concerning changes in the fetal heart rate pattern in women with sleep apnea.

The researchers suggest that these findings raise questions regarding data linking sleep apnea and adverse pregnancy outcomes. They recommend that the questionnaire be modified for pregnant women.

Funding for this work came from the National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award.

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