Using genetics, the HER Foundation and USC collaborative research team, led by Marlena Fejzo, PhD., found the cause of HG is related to the nausea and vomiting hormone GDF15. HG is not psychological and is not caused by hCG. Our newest study is pending publication and was featured in New Scientist.
New Scientist‘s Michael Le Page highlights our most recent study in “We finally know what causes morning sickness during pregnancy.” A hormone called GDF15 has been identified as the cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, which should lead to ways to prevent and treat the most severe cases.”
Share the Facts
- HG, hyperemesis gravidarum, is a pregnancy disease marked by rapid weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration due to unrelenting nausea and/or vomiting.
- HG is not the “morning sickness” of healthy, normal pregnancies. It is a distinct diagnosis marked by severe and relentless symptoms that pose significant risks to the health of both mother and baby. Over 1/3rd of HG babies do not make it to term.
- HG babies are at increased risk for low birth weight, small size for gestational age, and preterm birth. In utero exposure to HG is linked to a 3.6-fold increased risk of emotional/behavioral & developmental disorders.
- Nearly 20% of HG pregnancies are lost to therapeutic terminations, citing “no hope for relief.” Current treatments are not adequate to prevent termination of these planned, wanted pregnancies.
- Mothers with HG’s most severe forms can experience pneumothorax, organ rupture, retinal detachment and blindness, eardrum and jaw damage, rib fractures, esophageal tears, the neurological syndrome Wernicke’s encephalopathy, or even death.
- 18% of women report full criteria of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS) following an HG pregnancy. More than half of mothers have post-traumatic stress symptoms.
- In 2009, inpatient treatment for HG in the U.S. cost more than $250,000,000. HG is the leading cause of hospitalization in early pregnancy, and is second only to preterm labor as the most common overall cause of hospitalization during pregnancy.
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