An assessment and Validation of screening tools for Sleep Apnea in Singleton and Multiple Pregnancy

Research Opportunity
Honours students
Number of Honour Places Available
Department / Centre
Medicine and Radiology
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Megan Rees 0431110995 Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Stephen Cole
Dr Tom Cade

Summary We aim to determine the prevalence of sleep apnea in multiple pregnancy and the utility of established screening tools. Participants will be assessed for risk of sleep apnea with a screening questionnaire and non-invasive monitoring of sleep on a single night in their own home. We plan to assess risk of sleep apnea in women carrying twins and triplets and compare these to women with singleton pregnancy.

Project Details

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition of pregnancy with a prevalence of between 8 and 15% of women. Sleep apnea in pregnancy is associated with adverse effects including hypertension, gestational diabetes, intrauterine growth restriction and pre-term delivery. It is easily and successfully treated without medication simply positive airway pressure applied during sleep.

The greatest risk factors for sleep apnea in pregnancy are increased maternal age and elevated body mass index both of which are more common in the population of women pregnant with twins than the singletons. In addition, the exaggerated anatomical and physiological changes associated with multiple pregnancy may impact on sleep apnea. It is highly likely that twin or multiple pregnancy also has a greater rate of obstructive sleep apnea however there have been no substantial studies examining this area.


1. Determine the performance of a questionnaire and smart phone application in predicting the risk of sleep apnea in pregnancy, as compared to a home based sleep study. 

2. Compare the prevalence of sleep apnea between multiple and singleton pregnancy at the same institution. 

3. Determine if a screening questionnaire developed for singleton pregnancy performs similarly in multiple pregnancy

4. Characterize  the severity and nature of sleep apnea in multiple pregnancy patients deemed to be at risk of sleep apnea by screening tests. 

Determining the prevalence and severity of sleep apnea will have significant implications for patient care. We will identify a condition that can be readily treated with significant benefits to mother and baby. Current obstetric guidelines do not have recommendations about screening for OSA in pregnancy and could be included if found to be significant. Additionally, we hope to determine most effective screening tool, and these can then be compared in terms of accuracy as well as convenience and cost.

The project will be conducted at both obstetric clinics of the Royal Womens Hospital and the Sleep Disorders Department of the Royal Melbourne Hospital. The project has full ethics and governance approval and is funded by an innovation grant form the Norman Beischer Medical Research Foundation.

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine, Cardiometabolic , Women's Health

Research Opportunities

Honours students
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre

Medicine and Radiology

Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital

MDHS Research library
Explore by researcher, school, project or topic.