"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

New study reveals reason for morning sickness

December 14, 2023 – Most pregnant women suffer from nausea and vomiting, sometimes to a life-threatening extent. Researchers have now came upon why that is the case and have published their latest study within the renowned scientific journal Nature suggests prevention and treatment options.

The reason for so-called “morning sickness” lies within the pregnant person's sensitivity to a hormone called GDF15. The hormone is produced by the fetus within the placenta and increases sharply while pregnant.

The Results were published this week and are available from a team from the University of Southern California, the University of Cambridge within the United Kingdom and Sri Lankan researchers.

At least 7 out of 10 pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting while pregnant. About 2 in 100 pregnant women experience extreme symptoms often called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which may result in weight reduction, dehydration and hospitalization. The condition increases the danger of other serious pregnancy complications comparable to preeclampsia and premature birth and is commonly underdiagnosed.

One of the study's most significant findings is that not everyone seems to be equally sensitive to GDF15. People whose bodies had only small amounts of it before pregnancy were more sensitive while pregnant. People with very high levels before pregnancy attributable to a genetic blood disorder called beta thalassemia were less sensitive to GDF15 while pregnant.

To reach their conclusions, the researchers conducted a series of analyzes including analyzing GDF15 levels within the blood of pregnant people, analyzing genetic data, and conducting laboratory experiments on mice and human cells. The results suggest two possible pathways to administer GDF15 sensitivity. An experiment in mice suggested that increased exposure to GDF15 before pregnancy could possibly be helpful. Another option is to take antibody treatment that blocks GDF15 or its receptors.

“This study provides strong evidence that one or both of these methods will be effective in preventing or treating HG,” says researcher Marlena Fejzo, PhD, clinical assistant professor of population and public health sciences on the University's Keck School of Medicine of Southern California, said in a opinion.

Fejzo told The New York Times that she had severe symptoms during her second pregnancy in 1999 and couldn't eat or drink without vomiting. Her doctor dismissed her concerns and said she had exaggerated. She suffered a miscarriage 15 weeks after hospitalization Just reported.