The prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea and its association with pregnancy-related health outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Sleep Breath. 2019 Jun;23(2):399-412. doi: 10.1007/s11325-018-1714-7. Epub 2018 Sep 25.


Purpose: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is common during pregnancy. Nevertheless, prevalence estimates of OSA have varied widely due to variabilities in the assessment methods. This meta-analysis aimed to examine the prevalence of objectively assessed OSA and its association with pregnancy-related health outcomes in pregnant women.

Methods: This review was developed following the PRISMA guideline. A systematic search was conducted in major electronic databases to identify studies conducted from inception to January 2018. The pooled estimates with 95% confidence interval were calculated using the inverse variance method. Forest plots were used to present the results of individual studies and the pooled effect sizes.

Results: Thirty-three studies were included. The mean gestational age was between 21.2 (8.5) and 37.3 (2.1) weeks. The pooled worldwide prevalence of OSA was 15% (95% CI 12-18%). The prevalence estimates ranged from 5% in the European Region to 20% in the Region of Americas. The prevalence estimates for different trimesters ranged from 15 to 19%. OSA was related to an increased risk for gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, C-section, postoperative wound complication, and pulmonary edema. The pooled adjusted odds ratio (aOR) values were 1.97, 1.55, 2.35, 1.42, 1.87, and 6.35, respectively. OSA was also related to an increased risk for preterm birth (aOR = 1.62) and neonatal intensive care unit admission (aOR = 1.28).

Conclusions: OSA is a common health issue in pregnant women. OSA is associated with various pregnancy-related health outcomes. Routine screening, early diagnosis, and effective treatment of OSA are recommended in pregnant women, particularly during mid and late pregnancy.

Keywords: Meta-analysis; Observational; Pregnancy; Prevalence; Sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Correlation of Data
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology*