What is hyperemesis gravidarum? Kate Middleton's acute morning sickness explained
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Monday 03 December 2012
Acute morning sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, is a serious medical condition with potential consequences for mother and baby. While seven out of ten pregnant women suffer nausea, usually in the first three months, some are sick morning noon and night throughout, vomiting as much as 25 times a day.
Until the 1950s, women even died from the condition through becoming dehydrated – Charlotte Bronte is believed to have been a victim. Now dehydration can be treated with a drip and is a common reason for hospitalisation accounting for more than 25,000 admissions a year.
Others cannot cope with the sickness and seek a termination. Since thalidomide led to children born with birth defects in the 1960s , there is a fear of prescribing anything in pregnancy and the condition is consequently under-treated.
A Swedish study in The Lancet in 1999 suggested women suffering from the condition were slightly more likely to be carrying a girl.
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