Mother's sickly legacy: Curse of morning sickness 'runs in the family'


Hereditary: The risk of morning sickness is three-fold if the woman's mother experienced the condition

Women whose mothers suffered severe morning sickness in pregnancy are three times more likely to go through the same ordeal, say researchers.

Serious sickness affects one in 50 pregnancies, causing extreme nausea and vomiting for up to five months.

Researchers found the daughters of mothers who had been affected were also at greatly increased risk.

However, they believe it may not be a genetic problem, but instead due to shared factors such as diet or exposure to infections.

Doctors from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health examined more than two million births between 1967 to 2006 for the study, published online in the British Medical Journal.

Severe morning sickness is much worse than feelings of nausea experienced by many women in the early week of pregnancy.

Known as hyperemesis gravidarum, it can lead to weight loss, dehydration and deprivation of essential nutrients for both mother and baby because it can last for up to 22 weeks.

Babies whose mothers have the condition can be born premature or at low birth weight, and it can prove fatal in extreme cases.


The researchers led by Dr Ase Vikanes concluded: 'The risk of hyperemesis in a pregnant woman is threefold if the woman's mother had ever experienced hyperemesis in a pregnancy.

'This was regardless of whether hyperemesis had occurred in the pregnancy leading to the woman under study or in a previous or subsequent pregnancy.'

However, the female partners of men whose mothers had also suffered from the sickness had no increased risk in their pregnancies.

There could be a genetic link, said Dr Vikanes, but it i s likely to be more complicated.

She added: 'It is possible that the risk is not genetically transmitted, but is caused by environmental factors that are shared by mothers and daughters.

'These can be nutritional factors, other lifestyle factors or infections.'


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