It sounds like a spell out of a Harry Potter movie, but Kate Middleton is a muggle like the rest of us. Unlike the rest of us, however, the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant with her second royal baby. And, unlike the majority of expectant mothers, Kate is again ill with hyperemesis gravidarum. After canceling an engagement in Oxford, the Duchess of Cambridge confirmed that she is pregnant with her second child. The announcement was made when Kate became ill with her condition, the same syndrome that hospitalized her during pregnancy with Prince George.
This brings up the first important question: What is hyperemesis gravidarum?
This syndrome, which afflicts approximately 1 to 2 percent of expecting mothers, makes morning sickness sound like a walk in the park. On the surface, the symptoms look like morning sickness, but the illness itself is much more severe causing severe nausea, weight loss and electrolyte imbalance.
Causes and Diagnosis
Nausea and vomiting during the early stages of pregnancy is normal for the first 12 weeks, so oftentimes this syndrome isn’t diagnosed until the symptoms last past those initial 12 weeks or when the vomiting becomes chronic to the point of dehydration. Doctors are still unsure of the biological cause of hyperemesis gravidarum, but studies suggest that it comes from sensitivity to biochemical change in the body. If the woman has that sensitivity, it might identify the hormone change as something toxic to the body, causing acute sickness.
The 3 Primary Risks
1. Weight loss during pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, gaining weight isn’t only inevitable – it’s necessary for the health of both the mother and child. When you have hyperemesis gravidarum, the severe vomiting happens so frequently that it becomes challenging to gain (and retain) weight.
This type of morning sickness can make it difficult to keep even the most basic liquids down. This can cause low blood pressure, fatigue, and the psychological conundrum of constant illness.
3. Psychological disorder
Researchers have found that women who have hyperemesis gravidarum show the same psychological suffering as people suffering from acute mental illness, like mood disorders and psychotic disorders. That’s no surprise, seeing as chronic vomiting would make anyone feel mentally distraught. This eventually goes away with the other symptoms, so no need to worry about our favorite Duchess going off the deep end. In the meantime, Prince William should keep the roses coming.
To the dismay of women who suffer from this condition, there isn’t much a doctor can do to alleviate symptoms. Like a long-term flu, treatment involves taking food in small, frequent meals and trying to stay hydrated. Some women have found relief through homeopathic remedies including ginger and vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 can sometimes help with nausea during pregnancy because it helps to with metabolizing carbs, fats, and acids in the body. Ginger is used in many homeopathic remedies to aid in digestion and ease nausea. Together, these at-home remedies have been known to help alleviate the symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum. Others opt for antihistaminic drugs such as phenothiazine and metoclopramide, which helps increase the rate at which the stomach moves food, making it easier to keep down food and water.
Luckily, complications as a result of hyperemesis gravidarum are extremely rare. Which brings the second most important question: Is it a boy or a girl?
Photo credit: Getty Images
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