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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 23:37 GMT 00:37 UK
Half of pregnant women hit by nausea
Half of all pregnant women experience nausea
Half of all pregnant women experience nausea
For most pregnant women, morning sickness does not involve mornings or sickness.

Instead, say researchers from the University of Lincoln, women are more likely to experience nausea at any time of the day, which can be at least as disabling as vomiting.

A study of 350 pregnant women at Hull Hospital found only 12% of pregnant women are physically sick every day, while 50% experience nausea on a daily basis.

However, around one in 100 women suffer from such severe sickness during pregnancy that they have to be treated in hospital.


A lot of women do become nauseous and find it very unpleasant

Mary Nolan, NCT
For most, hyperemesis gravidarum subsides by around the 16th week of pregnancy, but just under a third are affected throughout their pregnancy.

Brian Swallow, a senior lecturer in health psychology at the university, who carried out the research, told BBC News Online the condition should more correctly be called "pregnancy nausea" instead of "morning sickness".

Work days lost

He said: "Vomiting isn't as common as it was thought to be.

"But that doesn't deny the significance of the feeling of nausea which most women do experience.

"It means women can't get on with their life. Thousands of days are lost to work and it can affect family life."

Mr Swallow said at least 5% of women suffered nausea and retching constantly.

"For that group, we found that their reported health was significantly worse."

The study was carried out by the SOS in Pregnancy Research Group, a collaboration between researchers from the Universities of Lincoln and Hull, and the Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Hospital Trust.

But Mr Swallow said the main aim of the research was to increase understanding of the effects of hyperemesis gravidarum.

He said: "Women with hyperemesis gravidarum have a miserable pregnancy.

"Women describe it as the worst thing they've ever experienced."

Traditional remedies

Doctors do not yet know what causes the condition, although theories range from a hormonal imbalance to psychological or social factors, or even that it is an evolutionary process to prevent women from eating food that may be harmful.

Mr Swallow said the research showed the importance of monitoring morning sickness and of picking up the more severe cases so counselling or medical interventions could be provided.

He said anti-sickness drugs were a controversial issue since thalidomide was given to pregnant women to treat morning sickness in the 60s.

Mary Nolan, an National Childbirth Trust antenatal teacher and tutor from Stafford, told BBC News Online the figures in the research tallied with her experience.

"A lot of women do become nauseous and find it very unpleasant, and are always looking for ways to minimise it."

She said old wives' tales about cures were accurate.

"It's good to eat something before you get up in the morning, such as a piece of toast and a warm drink in bed.

"It's also important to try and keep tension out of your life.

"Ginger and peppermint tea can also ease symptoms."

The research is published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.


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