“What is morning sickness?” is a question most of us don’t have to ask. But this morning’s news that Kate Middleton is officially pregnant–and officially in the hospital because of something called “acute morning sickness,” or Hyperemesis gravidarum–is causing everyone to wonder why her nausea and vomiting is so bad. Here’s the scoop.
What is morning sickness?
According to the American Congress of Obstretricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), morning sickness is defined as the following:
Nausea and vomiting that happen during pregnancy, especially during the first part of pregnancy, often are called “morning sickness.” Despite its name, morning sickness can occur at any time of the day.
Which brings up the next obvious question: What causes morning sickness? ACOG says that morning sickness is thought to be caused by a variety of factors, especially increasing levels of hormones changing hormones during pregnancy.
It’s standard for women to experience some nausea during their first trimester, and it typically goes away by the middle of pregnancy. It’s not a sign that the baby is sick, and typically it doesn’t harm the baby’s health.
But in some cases, like Kate Middleton’s, it can be serious enough to cause pregnancy complications and threat the mother and baby’s health. This is defined as hyperemesis gravidarum, or acute morning sickness.
So what is hyperemesis gravidarum?
According to ACOG, acute or severe morning sickness is defined as the following:
It’s severe, debilitating nausea and vomiting in pregnancy that generally leads to more than 5 percent weight loss and requires fluid treatment. Sometimes, in more extreme cases, it requires nutritional supplements.
Severe nausea and vomiting can cause dehydration through loss of fluids, which are often replaced with an intravenous line (IV), but Dr. Marlena Fejzo, an obstetrics researcher at UCLA, told the New York Times that acute morning sickness can be so serious that expectant mothers are required to be tube fed with a line that’s inserted just above the heart.
Fortunately, reports indicate that the Duchess of Cambridge is getting a simple IV at King Edward VII Hospital in London right now, but for a family who would, for obvious reasons, prefer to keep their pregnancy and health conditions under wraps, it’s not hard to imagine that her situation must be pretty serious for her to announce her pregnancy before the customary 12-week mark.
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