Preterm Birth Risk May Increase With Insomnia & Sleep Apnea

pregnant African American woman sleeping

Sleep disorders during pregnancy may increase the risk of preterm birth, a new study finds.

The California research looked at 2,265 pregnant women who were diagnosed with a sleep disorder, such as insomnia or sleep apnea. They were compared to a control group of pregnant women without a sleep disorder diagnosis but with similar maternal risk factors for preterm birth, such as a previous preterm birth, smoking during pregnancy, or high blood pressure.

The rate of preterm birth was 14.6 percent among women with sleep disorders and 10.9 percent among the control group. Preterm birth is defined as delivery before 37 weeks’ gestation.

The risk of delivery before 34 weeks’ gestation was more than double among women with sleep apnea and nearly double among those with insomnia, according to the study.

It was published Aug. 8 in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Treating sleep disorders could help reduce the preterm birth rate, which stands at about 10 percent in the United States, higher than most other developed countries, according to the University of California, San Francisco researchers.