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Severe Morning Sickness Can Be A More Serious Warning Sign
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Severe Morning Sickness Can Be A More Serious Warning Sign

Dr. Gary Stanziano, from Alere Health has completed a study which looked at the relationship between a severe type of morning sickness, called hyperemesis gravidarum and the negative effects it can have on the health of mother and fetus in later pregnancy. HG affects an estimated one percent of all pregnant women and is defined as nausea and vomiting that are so serious that the woman cannot function in her daily life as she normally would.

Not all women have any type of morning sickness while pregnant, but 50-60% have at least some mild nausea at some point in their pregnancy. It is a misnomer to call it "morning" sickness as the feeling of nausea and even vomiting can happen at any time of the day or night. In the rare women who have the more severe form, maternal and fetal malnutrition are real threats as is dehydration and other, more potentially serious conditions.

The study linked HG to a higher risk of preterm delivery with those women over twenty percent more likely to deliver before thirty four weeks gestation. Those women were also over thirty times more likely to have elevated blood pressure, a condition that is called preeclampsia. That condition, which can become life threatening may lead to the mother having to be induced even before the baby is at full term to save her life as well as that of the baby. Women with this level of morning sickness are also two times more likely to have low pregnancy weight gain which also can cause developmental problems for the fetus, especially at key times in the pregnancy. For instance, a deficiency in vitamin D during the second to third trimester can later affect language development.

Stanziano points out that there have been a number of studies about morning sickness and how it affects the mother but few that have looked at the effects on fetal health and development.

Over eighty one thousand women were enrolled in an educational program through Alere's Maternal Program. Each of the women delivered their baby sometime between 2004 and 2011. After the baby was born, the women were asked a number of questions about their pregnancy, specifically about their morning sickness. Of the women, six percent were determined to have been affected by HG. Of them, 1800 needed no medical interventions while 3300 needed medical care, including iv. fluids and others. Nearly a quarter of those women had low weight gain during their pregnancy and ten percent had smaller babies.


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