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The Cutting Edge

Extreme Morning Sickness? It Could Be Your Genes

APPROXIMATELY 60,000 PREGNANT WOMEN ARE HOSPITALIZED each year due to hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), an extreme form of nausea and vomiting that endangers their lives and often forces them to reluctantly terminate their pregnancies.

And for women with sisters, mothers and grandmothers who have experienced extreme morning sickness during pregnancy, the risk of HG may be heightened, according to a new study led by researchers from UCLA and the University of Southern California.

Researchers traced the family histories of women with HG and found not only that the condition could be genetic, but also that women with sisters who had HG could have a more than 17-fold risk of experiencing the debilitating condition, too.

“Pregnant women with a family history of extreme nausea in pregnancy should be aware that they may have it, too, and healthcare providers should take a family history of nausea in pregnancy at the first visit with an obstetrician,” said lead author Marlena Fejzo, M.D., assistant professor of hematology– oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

The researchers found that women with HG were more than five times as likely as the controls to report having a sister with severe morning sickness or HG. When including sisters who had experienced HG – and excluding sisters with just severe morning sickness – study participants with HG had 17.3 times the odds of also having the condition. In addition, 33 percent of the women with HG reported having an affected mother, compared with only 8 percent of the controls.

 





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