Morning sickness study highlights impact of problem

Morning sickness is an all-consuming and all-around uphill experience for the four in five women who suffer it during early pregnancy, and for the 0.3% to 2% women who experience hyperemesis gravidarum, it is even more than that.

Now a new study, the straightforwardly named NVP (Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy) Impact Study by the University of Warwick, has cast more light on the issue with a look at its economic, social and personal cost.

Perhaps the standout news from the study is that the NHS’s cautious approach to medicating morning sickness could ultimately be costing the organisation millions of pounds – morning sickness currently costs the NHS around £60m a year, including the bill from the 80 morning sickness-related emergency callouts that are made in the UK each day.

“We hope that by using safe and effective anti-sickness treatment then it may be possible to reduce the number of women who have uncontrolled symptoms and require ambulance callouts and have such severe symptoms that they need to attend accident and emergency or be admitted to hospital,” commented lead researcher, Professor Roger Gadsby.

“If a woman comes to her GP and is told ‘just go home and drink some ginger’, that is really inappropriate because if the woman has felt the need to talk to a healthcare professional about it, it is probable that she’s already tried all those things.

“If we manage people effectively in the community, there’s a real chance of reducing some of this £60m burden to the NHS.”

The problem of morning sickness has received a growing level of media coverage and public awareness following the pregnancies of the Duchess of Cambridge, all three of which she was forced to announce early because of the attention created by her hospital visits for treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum.

Another problem identified by the team was the inevitable and natural reluctance of women to take medication during pregnancy. Many turn to natural remedies, but in extreme cases of morning sickness, these may provide little or no benefit. In such cases, your GP may need to recommend anti-sickness medication (remember you should not start taking any medication in pregnancy without consulting your GP first).

Morning sickness has consequences far beyond that of simply beyond its transient symptoms. For example, mothers may struggle to receive sufficient nutrition and hydration, may become depressed and may be at greater risk of postnatal mental health issues. Learn about easing the symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum and find out a bit more about morning sickness here.