In their scientific work, experts from Brown University noted that gestational diabetes is usually diagnosed in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. Insulin resistance, which reduces the effect of insulin on glucose regulation, can be detected as early as the first trimester or even before conception. This condition can be directly related to obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a clinical disorder characterized by frequent pauses in breathing in a sleeping person, accompanied by heavy snoring. These interruptions cut off the supply of oxygen to the body and block the timely removal of carbon dioxide. In order to open the airways, the brain causes a short awakening, due to which the quality of sleep is significantly reduced.
The study involved 192 women in early pregnancy who had risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea – persistent snoring and overweight. The researchers deliberately excluded from the study women who had previously been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or were being treated for OSAS.
All participants completed a sleep quality assessment at home and were tested for the HOMA Insulin Resistance Index. After adjusting the obtained data, the scientists identified the syndrome of obstructive sleep apnea in 61 women (32%). They also had elevated insulin resistance index and blood glucose levels.
The researchers noticed that all of these women were, on average, older than the other participants, had a high body mass index and were pregnant for the second or third time. However, they did mention that impaired glucose metabolism occurs in some cases in women who do not have these risk factors. That is why all expectant mothers need to control glucose and insulin levels and pay attention to the quality of sleep.
“Ideally, screening for obstructive sleep apnea should be done before conception. Doctors should look out for signs such as elevated BMI, heavy snoring, and daytime sleepiness. This will allow timely diagnosis of sleep disorders and prescribe treatment. Therapy later in pregnancy will, unfortunately, be less effective in reducing the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes,” the researchers said.