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Mellie's Difficult Pregnancy Explained: What Is Hypermesis Gravidarum Anyway?

03/07/2013

 

TLC
TLC
If you've been watching Gypsy Sisters, you've probably noticed that Mellie's having quite a hard time with her pregnancy. That's because she's been diagnosed with Hypermesis Gravidarum. Hypermesis Gravidarum is a rare pregnancy condition, affecting around 1 percent of all pregnant women. It's rare -- but Meliie's in good company: The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton has also been diagnosed with the disorder.

 

What are the symptoms? Well, basically everything awful that's associated with pregnancy. They often experience nausea and vomiting to such a degree that they become severly dehydrated and must endure a lengthy hospital stay.

As Hypermesis Gravidarum educator Molly Atkins explains. "For women with HG, the vomiting becomes so severe that they lose significant weight, can vomit bile and even blood from tears in the esophagus and stomach lining, and worse, experience malnutrition and dehydration that can threaten their lives."

Of course, most pregnant women experience some nausea and vomiting -- according to Marlena Fejzo, a geneticist at the University of California, Los Angeles, around 70 percent of women suffer through it. But for those with Hypermesis Gravidarum, it's at an elevated level. Some, says Fejzo, end up suffering from Wernicke's encephalopathy, "which is a thiamine deficiency that leads to a neurological disorder."
The trouble extends to the baby, as well. Babies born to mothers with Hypermesis Gravidarum are more likely to be born prematurely and at low birth weight.
So far, doctors have been unable to determine just what causes some women to experience HG. They do note, though, that it runs in families. So maybe Nettie had difficult pregnancies, too?
In any case, we wish Mellie -- and Duchess Catherine -- the best of luck with their difficult pregnancies!
And don't miss the next episode of Gypsy Sisters, Sunday at 9/8 c.
--Julie Gerstein

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