Fetal Heart Rate Decelerations in Women with Sleep-Disordered Breathing

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Reprod Sci


Emerging literature has shown that women with sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) have increased risk for gestational hypertension/preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Case reports suggest an association between maternal apnea and fetal heart rate deceleration but data are lacking on how maternal sleep impacts fetal health. Since decelerations may be associated with adverse outcomes, we sought to determine whether fetal heart rate decelerations were associated with SDB. A cohort study of third trimester pregnant women with a singleton fetus was conducted. Participants underwent a home sleep test with continuous portable electronic fetal monitoring. SDB was defined as a respiratory disturbance index (RDI)≥10 events/hour. The temporality between a respiratory event and fetal heart rate decelerations was determined to be present if a deceleration occurred < 30 s after a respiratory event. Forty women were included with mean (±SD) age, BMI, and gestational age of 32.0±5.5 years, 37.1±8.0 kg/m(2), and 34.6±2.4 weeks respectively. Overall, n=23 (57.5%) women had SDB. Thirty-seven late decelerations were observed in 18 women; of these, 84% were temporally associated with a respiratory event. Nine of the 18 women (50%) had SDB. Ten prolonged decelerations were observed in 6 women of which nine (90%) were temporally associated with a respiratory event. Five of the six women (83%) had an RDI≥10. These initial data suggest that, in this population, the majority of both late and prolonged fetal heart rate decelerations occur with a maternal respiratory event. Since respiratory events are characteristic of maternal SDB, this raises the possibility that SDB may influence fetal well-being.

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ePub ahead of print