All Woman

Your pregnancy: Hyperemesis gravidarum

Baby Steps

Wednesday, April 09, 2014    

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While morning sickness in pregnant women is quite common, hyperemesis gravidarum is not. It's a potentially dangerous type of morning sickness where vomiting is so severe no food or liquid can be kept down.

It's not unusual for pregnant women to get morning sickness, but when it gets to the point where you're dehydrated, losing weight or vomiting so much you begin to build up (toxic) products in your blood, that's a concern.

The condition is thought to affect about one in 50 pregnant women and tends to be more common in young women, women who are pregnant for the first time, those expecting multiple babies and in non-smokers. Fewer than one percent of women with the condition need to be hospitalised.

Doctors aren't sure what causes it but suspect it could be linked to hormonal changes or nutritional problems.

Women admitted to the hospital with hyperemesis gravidarum are usually treated with nutritional supplements and given fluids intravenously to treat dehydration. Most women hospitalised with the condition are discharged within several days.

If the problem is recognised and treated early, doctors say there are no long-term effects for either the mother or the child. Left untreated, the mother could be at risk of developing neurological problems — including seizures — or risk delivering the baby early.

The condition usually subsides by the second trimester and the rest of the pregnancy could be entirely uneventful. Pregnant women treated for the condition are usually advised to avoid fatty foods that could aggravate the problem.

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