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More than Morning Sickness: Kate Middleton's Pregnancy Announcement Draws Attention to Rare Pregnancy Condition Known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG)

LEESBURG, Virginia, Dec. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The announcement that Kate Middleton is expecting her first child is bringing attention to a little-known pregnancy condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a severe form of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy that can be debilitating because it causes serious dehydration and malnutrition. The condition is often misunderstood, even by healthcare professionals.

HG is generally marked by unrelenting nausea and vomiting that prevents women from eating or drinking and unable to keep anything down for months. Pregnant women who suffer from HG often lose weight during pregnancy and have difficulty carrying on daily activities. Those with the most severe symptoms are often hospitalized or placed on intravenous feeding.

"The HER Foundation sends their thoughts and prayers to Duchess Kate. We hope she knows she has tens of thousands of women around the world who understand what HG is and how it makes you feel physically and emotionally," said Ann Marie King, co-founder of the foundation, the world's largest grassroots network of HG survivors/supporters and leading site for HG information on the Internet. "Only those who have experienced HG can truly understand it. HG is so much more than morning sickness and its effects can be life changing."

It's estimated up to 2 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. are diagnosed with HG, the HER Foundation believes it is closer to 10 percent just by the pure volume of visits they receive on their site. Unfortunately, HG is not fully understood and a cause is not known. New theories and findings emerge every year, substantiating that it is a complex physiological disease likely caused by multiple factors.

Recent, conservative estimations suggest HG costs nearly $200 million annually just for inpatient hospitalization. Considering many women are treated outside the hospital to save costs, the actual cost is likely many times greater.

Dr. Marlena Fejzo, who has been heading up the research for HG at UCLA says, "I hope that Duchess Middleton is getting proper support and care including a thiamine shot if she is unable to tolerate vitamins to prevent a severe but completely avoidable HG-related condition, Wernicke's Encephalopathy.  I also hope the suffering of Duchess Middleton leads to more awareness, funding, and participation in research for this devastating and misunderstood pregnancy disease so that scientists like myself, can find answers.  My research focuses on identification of genes and risk factors for HG to identify the cause and cure and working with the HER Foundation."

Diagnosis is usually made by measuring weight loss, checking for ketones, and assessing the overall condition of the mother. Early intervention is critical.  Severe vomiting and nausea alone can cause complications including debilitating fatigue, gastric irritation, ketosis and malnutrition. Aggressive care early in pregnancy is very important to prevent these and more life-threatening complications.

"We can only hope that this amount of awareness will truly help educate the public, media and the medical profession about HG. We also hope through this awareness HG will finally receive the research funding it so desperately needs. HG is so much more than just morning sickness, it is a debilitating condition of pregnancy that needs to be taken seriously," King said.

For more information, visit the HER Foundation website at www.helpher.org or www.facebook.com/HERFoundation

Media Contact:
Ann Marie King – HER Foundation
+1-703-399-1272
[email protected]

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