LONDON - AP
Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, are expecting their third child. And for the third time - as with her previous two pregnancies - the former Kate Middleton is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, or severe morning sickness.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is estimated to affect about one to three percent of pregnant women and can result in nausea and vomiting so acute that hospitalization is required. It is thought to be caused by pregnancy hormones, but doctors aren’t sure why some women experience worse symptoms than others.
The condition usually begins in the early weeks of pregnancy and in many cases, subsides by about 20 weeks. But for some women, the effects may persist until the baby is born.
The condition can be “absolutely devastating,” said Dr. Roger Gadsby of Warwick University, who has studied the issue for decades. “Your life is on hold while the symptoms are present,” he said, noting that some pregnant women may vomit dozens of times per day and be restricted to bed rest.
Kensington Palace made the pregnancy announcement on Sept. 4, saying the duchess was not feeling well enough to attend an official engagement later in the day.
There is no evidence that the nausea and vomiting from severe morning sickness will affect the baby’s future health. Women with the condition actually have a slightly lower risk of miscarriage, according to Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
In severe cases, however, babies can be born with lower than expected birthweight. Women with the condition are advised to eat small meals often, to avoid any foods or smells that trigger symptoms and to consult their midwife or doctor if their symptoms do not subside.
If treatment requires hospitalization, women are typically given vitamins, steroids and anti-nausea drugs intravenously.