New research indicates that treatment of mild sleep-disordered breathing with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy in pregnant women with preeclampsia can improve fetal health.
The study, published in the January issue of the journal SLEEP, found that the average number of fetal movements increased from 319 during a night without CPAP treatment to 592 during the subsequent night with CPAP therapy. During the course of the night without CPAP treatment, the number of fetal movements decreased steadily by 7.4 movements per hour. In contrast, the number of fetal movements increased by 12.6 per hour during the night with CPAP therapy.
Preeclampsia affects about five percent of pregnancies and is dangerous for the mother as well as a risk factor for fetal growth restriction. It involves the onset of high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Scientists involved in the study say the findings are exciting because the treatment is a readily available, simple and non-invasive way to improve fetal well-being.