April 2, 2022, is World Autism Awareness Day. Children born after a pregancy with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) have an increased frequency of an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) diagnosis, and we are grateful for each of our children.
HG typically does not cause serious complications to most children during fetal development, unless the mother has severe or prolonged malnutrition. Aggressive and early management of HG to prevent weight loss and stress on mother and child are the best ways to prevent complications of HG. Treatments for HG are found to have little if any impact on the baby’s growth and development even when given in early pregnancy.
Our study found 8% of children from HG pregnancies had an autism spectrum diagnosis. In addition to our study, other small and large studies found HG is associated with an increased frequency for ASD. Other studies show that severe, prolonged or inadequately treated HG can have lifelong consequences for affected children postpartum. They also experience a 3.28-fold increase in the probability of receiving a neurodevelopmental diagnosis, including attention disorders, learning delay, sensory processing disorders, and speech and language delay. Additionally, affected children have demonstrated an increased risk of psychological and behavioral disorders in adulthood, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. More research is needed to confirm this in HG. (Note: Research grants for HG are extremely rare, so please support HG research!)
Get Ready for HG Awareness Day, May 15th!