The early months of pregnancy is a struggle for some women due to morning sickness. But a small percentage of moms-to-be develop severe morning sickness that could lead to life-threatening nausea.
The condition is called Hyperemesis gravidarum. According to The Conversation, little is still known about the condition despite reports of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, suffering through severe morning sickness in her pregnancies.
Hyperemesis gravidarum has been the top reason for maternal deaths in the 1950s, before the introduction of intravenous hydration. Today, it can exacerbate preterm labor and still be a life and death struggle. Thus, moms suffering from Hyperemesis gravidarum are usually advised for hospital confinement to mitigate the risks.
The exact cause of Hyperemesis gravidarum has not been determined. But experts believe that the hormonal changes in pregnancy are big factors, according to American Pregnancy Org. The symptoms begin to manifest as early as 4-6 weeks and could peak during 9-13 weeks of pregnancy.
A mother with Hyperemesis gravidarum won't be able to eat nor drink without vomiting. With severe nausea, she could also have dizzy spells and develop excessive saliva. Without proper food intake, she could rapidly lose weight, suffer from dehydration and have electrolyte imbalance.
There have been pregnant women with Hyperemesis gravidarum who have violent vomiting episodes that can lead to physical distresses like burst eardrums, fractured ribs, torn esophagus and detached retinas. Some women also end up with brain damage, The Conversation further reports.
Meanwhile, the baby in the womb also suffers as a result of Hyperemesis gravidarum. If left without proper care, the baby might have malnutrition or manifest neurodevelopmental delays, according to a study published in the European Journal of Obstretics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology.
Ondansetron is a known drug treatment for Hyperemesis gravidarum but not all pregnant mothers respond to it well. At the risk of losing babies, The Conversation adds that the medical community needs to do more research in finding the root cause. Doing so could pave the way for the development of a viable treatment to help suffering pregnant moms.
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