Really bad morning sickness (hyperemesis gravidarum) isn't in your head; it's in your genes
Slightly less miserable than the continuous vomiting for women who have hyperemesis gravidarum — the extreme morning sickness suffered by 0.3 percent to 2 percent of pregnancies and famously three times by Duchess Kate — is the assumption by many that the condition is psychological.
Many women with HG report being told by doctors and "helpful" friends that the unrelenting nausea and vomiting are psychosomatic — deep down they just don't want to be pregnant.
Nonsense, science now says.
A new study in Nature finds a link between two genes, the placenta and appetite genes GDF15 and IGFBP7, and the kind of extreme morning sickness that can lead to dangerous dehydration, weight loss, ketonuria, nutritional deficiencies and electrolyte disturbances.
For decades the cause of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy has eluded researchers, and available treatment options are limited and not always effective.
But these findings published in March could bring scientists one step closer to providing a safe and effective treatment for women who suffer from normal morning sickness and HG.
As a bonus, the researchers found that an overproduction of GDF15 is a "key driver" of loss of appetite and wasting in cancer patients. So this study could eventually help more people than the pregnant kind.
Researchers used (with permission) samples from customers of the genetic testing service 23andMe in the study.