Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) is a dangerous form of morning sickness, and affects up to 4% of 1000 pregnant women in developed countries. Even though the statistics show it is not common, it is vitally important that all women know the signs, and know what to do.
Some cases can be so severe that it can cause the woman to go into shock, and some women even experience symptoms of post traumatic stress.
Normal 'morning sickness' affects 70% of pregnant women during their first trimester; however the title is misleading, as morning sickness can happen at any time of day. Some women will just feel off their food, and a bit 'yucky', while others experience severe sickness and it can be diagnosed as HG.
So What Is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?
Hyperemesis Gravidarum is prolonged and unrelenting nausea and vomiting. There can also be fainting, dehydration, malnutrition and women have been known to lose up to 5% of their body weight. There have also been reported cases of women vomiting blood.
Symptoms can also include headaches, lethargy, confusion, quickened heart rate and low blood pressure.
Dr David William, consultant obstetrician at the Institute of Women's Health, said "It's a really awful condition. Pregnancy should be a joyful happy time but these women feel dreadful. Most are affected in early pregnancy and the worst should be over by week 16, but for some it goes on for much longer".
What Are The Affects On The Baby?
Babies that have suffered a HG pregnancy are generally of a low weight at birth, and are commonly born prematurely. There have been studies that suggested that babies born after a HG pregnancy are more likely to suffer attention and behavioural problems in the long run.
How Do You Know If You Are At Risk Of Developing HG?
Studies are still taking place to find out if there is a specific gene that can mean you are more susceptible to HG. The speculation at the moment among experts is that it is related to hormone metabolism.
HG is said to be more likely in women who are expecting twins or triplets, as there is greater hormone activity taking place.
What Are The Chances Of My Second Pregnancy Giving Me HG?
Recent studies showed that there is an 80% chance that if you have suffered with HG in your first pregnancy, you will also have it in the second. Even if there was a different partner involved, it made no difference.
What Is The Remedy?
The only way to ease symptoms and help your body battle through, is fluids. In many cases women need to be hospitalised so they can be given fluids intravenously, as they are unable to even keep water down.
Can I Prevent It?
Research showed that women who suffered with allergies had to suffer the symptoms of HG for longer, and also for those women who ate a special diet e.g. lactose free diets, and vegetarian diets. Lactose and vegetarian diets are high in oestrogen, so experts believe that avoiding oestrogen may aid the symptoms.
- At the moment there are certainly a lot of questions that need answering, as there's too much speculation surrounding causes and prevention. The resounding point that many doctors, midwives and nurses are saying, is not to panic. Do not be put off getting pregnant because of this, and if you have any worries at all then you should contact your GP or resident midwife.