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Hyperemesis Gravidarum: Duchess Of Cambridge Is Suffering From Severe Morning Sickness, So What Is It?

The Duchess is pregnant with her third child.

04/09/2017 11:19 | Updated 05 September 2017

The Duchess of Cambridge is suffering with hyperemesis gravidarum a form of severe sickness during her third pregnancy.

They also revealed that, as with her previous two pregnancies, the Duchess was once again suffering with the debilitating vomiting condition, which the NHS estimates affects around one in every 100 pregnant women.

Due to her condition, the Duchess will no longer carry out planned engagements, including a visit to the Hornsey Road Children’s Centre in London on 4 September. 

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What is hyperemesis gravidarum?

Around seven out of every 10 pregnant women experience some nausea (‘morning sickness’) during pregnancy, but this usually improves or disappears completely by around week 14, according to the NHS.

Women suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) will continue to be sick many times a day and will be unable to keep food or drink down, which can have a negative effect on their daily life.

It’s not known what causes HG, but according to the NHS, some experts believe it is linked to changing hormones during pregnancy.

Symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum.

Signs and symptoms of HG include:

- Prolonged and severe nausea and vomiting – some women report being sick up to 50 times a day.

- Dehydration – not having enough fluids in your body because you can’t keep drinks down.

- Ketosis – a state the body goes into if it needs to break down body fat for energy. The state is marked by raised levels of ketones in the blood which can be used by the body as fuel. High levels of ketones can result in a serious condition - ketoacidosis - where the amount of ketones in the blood is sufficient to turn the blood acidic.

- Weight loss.

- Low blood pressure when standing.

Experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum.

In a report entitled “I could not survive another day”, by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Pregnancy Sickness Support in 2015, research showed 10% of sufferers decide to terminate their pregnancy as a result of having HG.

The organisations called for better awareness of the condition and its impact on women.

A mum has previously opened up to HuffPost UK detailing how it felt to suffer from HG.

“Even the saliva in my mouth would make me throw up and I couldn’t face the slightly amount of noise or light without being sick,” said Jo Dodd, who spent her entire pregnancy in bed at home or in hospital.

“From just four weeks into my first pregnancy, every hour of every day was spent feeling sick or being sick. By five weeks, I’d become so dehydrated, I wound up on a drip in hospital and by seven-and-a-half weeks I had become seriously ill.”

Dodd wanted to speak out so other women knew they weren’t alone. She had an emergency C-section at 30 weeks, after which she weighed less than she did when she first became pregnant.  

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Treating hyperemesis gravidarum.

There are medications women who are experiencing HG can take. These include anti-sickness (anti-emetic) drugs, vitamins (B6 and B12) and steroids, or combinations of these.

Some women are admitted to hospital so doctors can assess their condition and give them treatment, such as having fluids through a drip. 

What should you do if you are experiencing severe sickness?

If you are being sick frequently and can’t keep food down, the NHS advises you tell your midwife or doctor, or contact the hospital as soon as possible.

There is a risk you may become dehydrated, and your midwife or doctor can make sure you get the right treatment.

Pregnancy Sickness Support has information and tips on coping with HG. Caitlin Dean, founder of the charity and author of Hyperemesis Gravidarum: The Definitive Guide, said as awareness of the condition continues to grow, more people are sympathetic and more medical professions recognise it at an earlier stage.

“Most women expect a certain level of sickness,” she previously said. “But if it gets to the point where you are struggling to manage it, and no self-help techniques are working, then it’s probably a sign that it’s on the way to becoming HG.

“If you just put up with it, you end up dehydrated and losing too much weight, at which point it can become difficult to treat.

“Together with the growing awareness and improving medical treatments, this means that the future is looking better than it ever has before.”

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