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Warning on severe morning sickness

Published 20/04/2015

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a complication of pregnancy which can result in extreme nausea and vomiting
Hyperemesis gravidarum is a complication of pregnancy which can result in extreme nausea and vomiting

A significant number of women who suffer from a type of severe morning sickness experienced by the Duchess of Cambridge are expected to either put up with it or have an abortion, a report has claimed.

Around 10,000 women are thought to suffer with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a complication of pregnancy which can result in extreme nausea and vomiting, each year but many are not being offered the entire range of treatments, two charities warned.

In their joint report entitled "I could not survive another day", the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Pregnancy Sickness Support said research had shown 10% of sufferers decide to terminate their pregnancy as a result .

It said: "Our research suggests that a significant proportion of women who have ended wanted HG pregnancies were not offered the full range of treatment options, but expected either to put up with the sickness or undergo an abortion."

There is more awareness of the condition because of Kate's well-publicised experience with HG during the early stages of both her pregnancies,said the charities, which surveyed 71 women who ended their pregnancies while suffering with HG.

The report said: " While the experience of the Duchess of Cambridge has dramatically raised awareness of HG, the coverage inevitably did not reflect that many sufferers unfortunately struggle to obtain comparable treatment."

Kate had to pull out of a number of royal engagements last year as she suffered with the effects of the acute morning sickness, just as she did in the early part of her pregnancy with Prince George.

The condition, although rarely fatal now, was the leading cause of death in early pregnancy before the development of intravenous fluids for rehydration in the 1930s.

Six women in the UK died due to complications associated with HG between 2006 and 2012, the report said.

Sufferers quoted in the report described vomiting blood and being too ill to get out of bed.

A possible unwillingness on the part of doctors to prescribe medication may be due to the Thalidomide disaster when babies were born with deformities after mothers were given the drug to ease morning sickness, the report warns.

It said: "I t is the case that the Thalidomide tragedy continues to cast a long shadow over doctors' willingness to provide medication. Doctors' fears are understandable. But the care of pregnant women cannot be dictated by events of the mid-20th century in perpetuity.

"In 2015, a number of treatment options are available that should be discussed with women experiencing a level of pregnancy sickness that is affecting her ability to go about her normal life."

It called for better awareness of the condition and its impact on women.

" Women should feel neither guilty nor stigmatised for their decision. Continuing to raise the profile of HG will hopefully go some way helping people understand the severe impact this condition has on pregnant women's lives," it said.

"No woman should ever be judged, feel ashamed or a failure for deciding that abortion is the best course of action for her, or pressured into accepting medication when she believes ending the pregnancy is what she needs to do.

"But women with pregnancies they wish to keep deserve prompt access to treatments that may enable them to do just that."

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