Hyperemesis gravidarum: What’s the severe morning sickness that Amy Schumer and Kate Middleton have suffered from and what are the symptoms?

Dave Maclean

Amy Schumer has revealed that she had to be hospitalised due to severe nausea during the second trimester of her pregnancy, a condition that has also affected the Duchess of Cambridge in the past.

The duchess suffered from extreme morning sickness during all three of her pregnancies when carrying Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

The medical term for the condition that the comedian and duchess have both experienced is hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) and while it’s very rare, in some cases it can be dangerous to both mother and child.

What is it?

HG is different to regular morning sickness because it doesn’t fade away with time and can leave some women bed-bound. Sufferers can get weaker over time as they struggle to digest food and hold down fluids. According to the NHS, some women report being sick up to 50 times a day.

How common is it?

HG affects just one per cent of expecting mothers.

How long does it last?

In some women, the condition lasts until the baby is born, while in others it fades away at around the 20-month point. In comparison, regular morning sickness generally disappears by the 14-week point.

What are the complications?

If an expecting mother becomes dehydrated then the unborn baby is at risk of deformities as a result of the reduction in the amount of amniotic fluid, which is needed to thrive. If a woman loses weight during pregnancy then this can lead to a baby which is born smaller than average. Due to dehydration, there can also be an increased risk of blood clots. Generally, however, babies are unlikely to be harmed if the condition is treated effectively.

When should a pregnant woman seek help?

A midwife, doctor or hospital should be informed if a pregnant woman is struggling to keep food down and is being sick frequently.

What causes hyperemesis gravidarum?

It’s unclear, but it may be linked to changing hormones in the body during pregnancy. It may also run in families, according to the NHS. Those who’ve had it during one pregnancy are likely to get it in subsequent pregnancies, so the NHS urges people to plan ahead.

How is it treated?

Anti-sickness drugs, vitamins B6 and B12, and steroids can all be used to treat the illness. The NHS says that the sooner treatment is started, the more likely it is to get it under control. For those who are severely dehydrated, intravenous fluids can be administered.

Are there any other symptoms?

Yes, some women report having a heightened sense of smell, excessive saliva production, headaches, pressure sores from bed rest, and urinary incontinence.