Will You Be Getting Morning Sickness? Ask Your Mom

Posted on Nov 4, 2011 | Morning Sickness Causes Category | | Print This Article

Creative Commons License photo credit: abbybatchelder

Most of us consider morning sickness to simply be part of the deal during pregnancy. After all, three out of every four pregnant women experience it to one degree or another. In most cases, morning sickness is nothing to worry about. In fact, it’s regarded by many as a healthy sign that your pregnancy is progressing normally.

For some women (around 60,000 per year in the US), however, the symptoms of morning sickness become extreme enough to merit hospitalization. Extreme cases of morning sickness are known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). HG can cause complications such as dehydration, weight loss, and other significant side effects.

So what are your chances of having extreme morning sickness? To get an idea, you may want to talk to your mom about her experiences with pregnancy and morning sickness. Recent studies conducted at UCLA indicate that extreme morning sickness may be genetic, the gene being passed from mother to daughter. The study showed that women whose mothers experienced HG were nearly 18 times more likely to also experience it.

Another study, conducted in the UK, considered women with extreme morning sickness over 40 years from 1967 through 2006. It indicated that a woman is 17 times more likely to have extreme morning sickness if her mother also suffered from it. A full third of the women in the study who experience extreme morning sickness reported that their mothers had similar problems during pregnancy.

That doesn’t mean you should panic if your mother had extreme morning sickness. While 75% of pregnant women experience morning sickness, only 0.5% deal with extreme morning sickness. Even among those whose mothers experienced HG, only 8.5% of women experienced extreme morning sickness.

It is also believed that morning sickness in general may be genetic, but that is more difficult to verify due to the fact that well over half of pregnancies involve morning sickness and it isn’t considered an abnormal condition during pregnancy.

Consider speaking with your mother early in your pregnancy regarding her experiences with morning sickness. If she or other women in your family have experienced extreme morning sickness, make your doctor aware of it. Why not make it a point to speak with your OB/GYN about the symptoms of morning sickness and HG, to make sure you understand what level of morning sickness symptoms are considered normal, and what level of symptoms pose a potential problem?

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