Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy that is different from the more common nausea and vomiting known as morning sickness. The term hyperemesis meaning “excessive vomiting” from the Greek hyper meaning above and beyond and emesis, vomiting, gravidarum from the Latin gravis meaning heavy. Typical of medics to dress it up, just means puking really badly…
Of course, HG can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and other serious complications are the result of unrelenting nausea and vomiting. It is a rare complication of pregnancy, but difficult to discern from a normal, but severe, case of morning sickness.
It is apparently more commonly associated with pregnancies that lead to multiple births, hence all the extra interest in the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge (aka Kate Middleton).
J Obstet Gynaecol in November discussed evidence that there is an association between HG, sex ratio of offspring and its mediation by high gonadotrophin levels. A paper published this month in J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol discusses the risk of depression in expectant mothers with HG. There have been suggestions that HG is a psychosomatic condition, but another recent paper in Gen Hosp Psychiatry endeavours to dispel that myth.