The research on hyperemesis gravidarum (or HG) is limited compared to some diseases; however, there is some information we do know.
Causes of HG
Unfortunately, there are no known causes of HG, only theories. It is likely that HG is caused by a number of interrelated factors that vary by woman and by pregnancy. Treatment thus differs because women will respond differently to medications and other interventions. What is known, however, is that it is not all in a woman's head. She cannot control being sick and is not causing her illness. Sadly, some health professionals are not aware of the research proving physiological changes are responsible. It is truly a disorder of pregnancy that requires serious attention to avoid a worsening of symptoms and complications.
When HG is treated early and effectively, she may still be somewhat miserable, but both mother and baby will typically not suffer any serious complications. She will likely experience extreme fatigue, depression, anxiety, and stomach or throat pain. Other complications become possible if her symptoms are severe or prolonged. Adequate care and social support decrease the risk of more debilitating complications.
Risks & Outcomes
Most mothers with HG have normal babies and recover within months of delivery. However, those who are refused care, becoming malnourished and chronically dehydrated, are at greater risk for problems with either mom or baby.
Research shows that women who lose more than 10% of their body weight and/or who are unable to gain weight for two or more consecutive trimesters are most likely to have complications. Although medications present a risk, dehydration and starvation also can harm the baby. Early intervention is the best strategy to avoid complications for both mother and baby.
Updated on: Apr. 18, 2013