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What is hyperemesis gravidarum?

The Duchess of Cambridge is suffering with the condition again during her third pregnancy

Chloe Best
Chloe BestLifestyle Features Editor
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shared the happy news that they are expecting their third child together on Monday. However as with her previous two pregnancies, it has been revealed that Kate is suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, and has been forced to pull out of a planned engagement at the Hornsey Road Children's Centre in London.

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Kate experienced the severe morning sickness through her pregnancies with both Prince George and Princess Charlotte, but just what is hyperemesis gravidarium? And how can it be treated? HELLO! Online reveal all you need to know...

Kate middleton© Photo: Getty Images

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is a severe, and potentially dangerous, form of morning sickness where mothers-to-be struggle to keep down any food or liquid, which can lead to dehydration. Unlike most morning sickness, it usually persists past the first trimester, up until around week 21 of pregnancy, although it can last much longer. It affects fewer than four in every 1,000 pregnant women and is treated by giving fluids intravenously and anti-sickness tablets. It is more often experienced by women expecting twins; mothers-to-be who suffer from the condition are three times more likely to have a multiple birth than other women.

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What are the symptoms of Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

As well as severe nausea, vomiting and food aversion, women suffering with hyperemesis gravidarum often feel tired, dizzy and confused. They can also lose around 10 per cent of their body weight. Dehydration is the big danger with the condition and that can cause symptoms that include headaches and palpitations. Because the mother-to-be cannot retain food, there is also a risk of nutritional deficiencies.

The symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum usually appear between weeks four and six of pregnancy and peak between weeks nine and 13. Most women will experience some relief between weeks 14 and 20, although up to 20 per cent may require care throughout the rest of their pregnancy.

Kate William George Charlotte© Photo: Getty Images

What causes Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

The precise cause of hyperemesis gravidarum isn't known – it is thought to be linked to the rise in hormone levels – and as such it isn't possible to prevent it from occurring. It can however be treated successfully. It tends to be more common in young mothers, women experiencing their first pregnancy and those carrying multiple children.

What is the treatment for Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Women suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum in its early stages are advised to rest and eat small pieces of dry toast or crackers before getting out of bed. Small frequent meals are also encouraged, although fried foods, or anything else that triggers nausea or vomiting are best avoided. If symptoms are severe, the mother-to-be will be admitted to hospital for a few days for observation and to treat dehydration with intravenous fluids.

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Research has shown no long-term harmful effects in mild cases. In more severe cases – fortunately very rare – there is a risk for mother and baby, particularly if the condition is not recognised and treated early on, including pre-eclampsia and premature labour.

This page is for general information only and should not be treated as a substitute for medical advice.

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