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September 2011



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ScienceDaily (Aug. 24, 2011) — An extreme form of pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) takes a heavy toll on thousands of women each year and can lead to hospitalization and pregnancy termination. But new research suggests pregnant women are not the only victims.


A joint study by UCLA and the University of Southern California has found that children whose mothers suffered from HG while carrying them were 3.6 times more likely to suffer from anxiety, bipolar disorder and depression in adulthood than individuals whose mothers did not have the condition. HG sends some 285,000 women to the hospital in the U.S. each year.


The study is published in the August 2011 issue of the Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease.


Prior studies have found that children of women who experience nausea persisting beyond the first trimester of pregnancy have more attention and learning problems by age 12, said study co-author Marlena Fejzo, an assistant professor of hematology-oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and an assistant professor of maternal and fetal medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. And other studies have found that poor fetal nutrition, a frequent result of HG, can lead to poor health in adulthood.


“Even though hyperemesis gravidarum can be a form of starvation and dehydration in pregnancy, no studies prior to this have been done to determine the long-term effects it has on the exposed unborn child,” Fejzo said.


HG often runs in families and in previous research, Fejzo and her colleagues found that women with a family history of the condition were up to 17 times more likely to suffer from it themselves.


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‘My morning sickness was so bad I had to have an abortion’: Mother’s agonising decision after vomiting 40 times a day

By Luke Salkeld

Last updated at 8:23 AM on 25th June 2010


A mother has told how she suffered such extreme morning sickness that she chose to have an abortion.


Cheryl Harrison made the heartbreaking decision after her condition left her unable to walk or care for her young daughter.


The 34-year-old had already experienced a traumatic first pregnancy with Scarlett, now five, during which she vomited up to 40 times a day.


Heartbreaking decision: Cheryl Harrison suffered from such bad morning sickness that she chose to abort her baby

Heartbreaking decision: Cheryl Harrison suffered from such bad morning sickness that she chose to abort her baby


But when she was expecting her second child, her symptoms were even more pronounced and painful, and after nine weeks she and her husband decided on a termination.


Yesterday Mrs Harrison, a sales manager, said she thinks about her unborn child every day and called for more support for women in a similar condition.


She said: ‘It was the most horrendous decision I have ever made.’


Mrs Harrison and her husband James, 34, a joiner, took the drastic action after she suffered dangerously high blood pressure.


She said: ‘I was putting my life in danger. James could see how much I was suffering and never opposed the idea of a termination, but he still thinks of the family we might have had.


‘I think there are other women who have terminated pregnancies for the same reason but it’s a taboo, no one discusses it.’


Mrs Harrison, who had her abortion in February 2008, recalled how she suffered when she was expecting Scarlett.


She said: ‘I was vomiting morning, noon and night for my entire pregnancy.


‘I was extremely depressed. I had a good job, a career that I loved, but I couldn’t even stand up. There was no way I could work.’


Mrs Harrison, from Beverley, East Yorkshire, even secretly wished for a miscarriage.


Family: Cheryl with husband James and daughter Scarlett. Cheryl experienced severe morning sickness when she was pregnant with Scarlett but it was even worse with the next pregnancy

Family: Cheryl with husband James and daughter Scarlett. Cheryl experienced severe morning sickness when she was pregnant with Scarlett but it was even worse with the next pregnancy


She said: ‘The 20-week scan showed I had a beautiful baby girl but I was almost disappointed because I just wanted the pregnancy to end.


‘I had a normal delivery and now I cannot imagine life without Scarlett.


‘Afterwards I was desperate to have another baby and thought I would be mentally prepared and able to cope. But the sickness was worse than ever.


‘I had one day where I could not move from the bathroom, I was sick 27 times. I couldn’t get Scarlett anything to eat even though she was starving. I dragged myself across the floor, managed to get her some chocolate from the fridge and thought “I can’t do this again”.’


Doctors diagnosed Mrs Harrison with hyperemesis gravidarum, the severest form of morning sickness.


At least 70 per cent of pregnant women experience nausea, and around one per cent suffer so badly that they are hospitalised to avoid dehydration and starvation.


But the condition is still little understood.


On July 1, academics from around the world will meet at Warwick University to discuss the causes, effects and treatments of hyperemesis gravidarum.


Psychologist Dr Brian Swallow, co-ordinator of the Pregnancy Sickness Support conference, said too many doctors trivialised morning sickness.


Dr Swallow, of the University of Lincoln, said: ‘Hyperemesis gravidarum can be far more serious than anyone realises.


‘Women consistently say they feel quite alone because there is insufficient help.


‘In some parts of the country, hospital staff are very sympathetic, but in others morning sickness is just seen as something women have to put up with.


‘We need to see a national protocol developed to offer counselling and support.’


A spokesman for anti-abortion campaigners ProLife Alliance said: ‘We sympathise with Mrs Harrison and understand that she was going through extreme suffering during her pregnancy.


‘However rather than women thinking that they have to resort to abortion, doctors should be educating themselves about morning sickness and providing more help.


‘We support Dr Swallow’s call for counselling and support.


Morning sickness graphic







Help HER – Hyperemesis Education Research:


Hyperemesis on babycentre site:


Hyperemisis on about.com:


Hyperemisis on Medscape …Hyperemesis gravidarum is characterized by persistent nausea and vomiting associated with ketosis and weight loss (>5% of prepregnancy weight). Hyperemesis gravidarum may cause volume depletion, electrolytes and acid-base imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, and even death. Severe hyperemesis requiring hospital admission occurs in 0.3-2% of pregnancies. :


Hyperemesis Awareness Group(Blooming Awful):


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