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Everything You Need To Know About Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Yesterday, every media both local and international went abuzz with the announcement of the expectation of Prince Williams and Kate’s third child. Some of the news also included that the Duchess of Cambridge, was suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum. As a result she would take time off work to receive medication.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) in a lay man’s language means the severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

Morning sicknesses are common but when excessive demands medical attention.


HG is considered to be the second leading cause of hospitalization during pregnancy.

Here are quick facts you need to know about HG. 

1. It Is Rare

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a rare pregnancy condition. It is believed to be suffered by 1 in every 100 pregnant women. The United States has recorded that more than 59,000 pregnant women are annually hospitalized for HG.

2. Causes

Medical researches have not conclusively named the causes of HG. However, the rare condition has been linked to a rapid increase in levels of hormones such as HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and estrogen in the blood during pregnancy.

3. Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of HG include:

  • Prolonged nausea and vomiting
  • Food aversion
  • Excessive saliva and spitting
  • Ketosis: A process where the body turns to stored fats for glucose.
  • Dehydration; which comes with low blood pressure, racing heartbeat, headache and confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

4. Effects

With the constant vomiting and following dehydration, there are extended cases of malnutrition, excessive weight loss and a disorder in the blood chemistry.

Owing to the ketosis, there is a build-up of toxins in the blood or urine.

These conditions are not healthy for both mother and child. If unchecked and unattended to, the baby could be born prematurely or with a  very low birth weight. HG could also cause a miscarriage.

According to the NHS, It can also cause an abnormally fast heart rate in the mother.

5. Risk factors

Studies have identified some possible risk factors which include:

  • Women who suffered HG in earlier pregnancies.
  • Being overweight.
  • First time pregnancy experience.
  • Carrying more than one baby.

It has also been discovered than severe morning sickness may run in families.

A 2010 Norwegian study suggests that women whose mothers suffered hyperemesis gravidarum were three times more likely to suffer same during pregnancy.

6. Treatments

Pregnant women are supposed to gain a weekly weight of about 1lb. On the reverse, severe morning sickness can make them lose as much as 10% of their body weight.

To treat Hyperemesis Gravidarum, the major task is to keep the patient re-hydrated. This is done by the use of intravenous drips, tube feeding, drinking plenty of water and eating small and frequent meals.

Intravenous hydration was introduced in the 1950s. Before then, HG was the leading cause of maternal death.

NOTE: Medical experts warn that it is erroneous to conclude strictly from personal observation that one is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. It is advised that a medical check be conducted by a doctor. This is because there are several other health conditions like food poisoning, infections, gallbladder disease, and pancreatitis that can trigger similar symptoms.


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