Obstructive sleep apnea in pregnancy: performance of a rapid screening tool

Sleep Breath. 2019 Jun;23(2):425-432. doi: 10.1007/s11325-018-1724-5. Epub 2018 Sep 19.


Purpose: The Sleep Apnea Symptom Score (SASS) has been commonly used to assess obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The aim of this study was to examine the psychometric properties of the SASS and the predictive value of SASS incorporating bedpartner-reported information in identifying OSA in pregnant women.

Methods: A cohort of healthy pregnant women completed the SASS and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Participants underwent overnight laboratory polysomnography (PSG) monitoring. Reliability and validity of the SASS were evaluated. A multivariable predictive model, incorporating the SASS score along with BMI, age, and bedpartner-reported information, was developed to assess the risk for OSA (AHI ≥ 5 events/h). Receiver operating characteristic curves for OSA were constructed to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of the predictive model.

Results: A total of 126 and 105 participants completed the PSG during the first and third trimester, respectively. The SASS demonstrated adequate validity and acceptable reliability (Cronbach's α = 0.72 during the third trimester). When the combined model consisting of SASS, age, BMI, and bedpartner-reported information was used, the area under the curve for AHI ≥ 5 for the first and third trimester was 0.781 (95%CI 0.648, 0.914) and 0.842 (95%CI 0.732, 0.952), respectively; the sensitivity/specificity was 76.9%/72.4% and 82.4%/78.0%, respectively.

Conclusions: The SASS alone has acceptable reliability and validity, but limited predictive values. A new tool, combining the SASS and other patient characteristics (i.e., age, BMI, and bedpartner-reported snoring and breathing pauses), demonstrated improved sensitivity and specificity, and thus may have greater utility in clinical practice for predicting OSA in pregnant women.

Keywords: Pregnancy; Screening; Sensitivity; Sleep apnea; Specificity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Polysomnography
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology