What Is Hyperemesis Gravidarum? Find Out About Condition Impacting Kate Middleton Pregnancy And The Royal Baby

By Melissa Siegel on December 3, 2012 12:52 PM EST

William and Kate
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first child. (Photo: REUTERS / Suzanne Plunkett)

Hyperemesis gravidarum is the name of the illness that has put royal duchess Kate Middleton into the hospital. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have officially announced that Kate Middleton is pregnant with their first child, but news of this disorder is putting a bit of a damper on the festivities.

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The press release simply states that hyperemesis gravidarum is a fancy term for "acute morning sickness." Kate Middleton has been admitted to the King Edward VII Hospital in Central London with the condition, where she is expected to stay for several days.

According to Americanpregnancy.org, hyperemesis gravidarum results in severe nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. Only the more severe cases require hospitalization.

Others symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum include jaundice, headaches, aversion to food, weight loss and rapid heart rate.

The website reports that 70 to 80 percent of pregnant women encounter some form of morning sickness. This vomiting is possibly caused by a rise in hormone levels.  

However, the U.S. National Library of Public Medicine notes that hyperemesis gravidarum is more dangerous than normal morning sickness, as it can lead to dehydration or fainting.

That website also notes that hyperemesis gravidarum is particularly common in women who are pregnant with multiple babies or those who have a hydatidiform mole. This is a mole that forms inside the uterus during a pregnancy. More than 80 percent of these moles are noncancerous, but the mole can lead to other problems like vaginal bleeding or hyperthyroidism.

The symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum first appear around a month into the pregnancy and can peak around at around nine to 13 weeks. There is no known cure for the condition, but it can be managed. Kate Middleton and others with this disorder will be advised to drink plenty of fluids. Vitamin B6 can also be used to help manage the vomiting.

Medication is usually required only in severe cases where the vomiting risks harming the unborn fetus. However, Kate Middleton may be receiving fluids through an I.V. while she remains in the hospital.

However, prognosis is normally good for expectant mothers with hyperemesis gravidarum. So those looking forward to the royal baby should not be overly concerned.


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