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Sleep, Pregnancy, and Type 2 Diabetes

Dr. Sushmida Pamidi and team studied the effects of untreated sleep apnea on glucose levels of pregnant women with gestational diabetes.

November 14 is World Diabetes Day! In the lead-up to this, we are promoting work by Dr. Sushmita Pamidi, RESP program scientist, and Raphieal Newbold (MSc graduate). They are studying the link that may lead to better health for mother and baby. Sleep apnea has strong links with type 2 diabetes and is quite prevalent in pregnancy. The research team found that increasing severity of sleep apnea in pregnant women with gestational diabetes was, in fact, linked with higher glucose levels at night. It is possible that improved glucose control in pregnancy by treatment of sleep apnea could lead to improved overall outcomes for mother and baby.

A study published by the group in CHEST reveals that untreated sleep apnea can affect nighttime glucose levels of pregnant women who have gestational diabetes. Dr. Sushmita Pamidi and her team of researchers who carried out the study discovered a clear relationship between sleep, pregnancy, and type 2 diabetes.

The results of this study shed light on the importance of recognizing and treating sleep apnea in these pregnant women, an area that has not previously received much attention. Type 2 diabetes in pregnant women increases their risk for complications during pregnancy, after childbirth, and often results in an increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the children during their lifetime.

In present day, intervention with pregnant women experiencing gestational diabetes primarily focuses on improved nutrition and increased exercise. This study has brought to light another important focus for medical attention as summarized by Dr. Pamidi:

“Overall, we need to think more about the importance of sleep disorders in pregnant women. This may be a missing link in the lifestyle recommendations for this population.”

Dr. Sushmita Pamidi

Read the RI-MUHC story for Diabetes Awareness Month & World Diabetes Day:

Read the complete publication

Newbold R, Benedetti A, Kimoff RJ, Meltzer S, Garfield N, Dasgupta K, Gagnon R, Lavigne L, Olha A, Rey E, Pamidi S. Maternal Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Pregnancy and Increased Nocturnal Glucose Levels in Women with Gestational Diabetes. Chest. 2020 Jul 17:S0012-3692(20)31911-5.