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Severe Morning Sickness May Signal Healthier, Smarter Baby

Katlyn Joy | 4, August 2014


According to a new study out of the University of Toronto and published in Reproductive Toxicology, women who suffer from nausea or vomiting from morning sickness have better outcomes with births and babies.

The study investigated 10 previous studies which were carried out in five different countries in a 20 year span. The researchers reviewed data involving 850,000 pregnant women.

The researchers found a variety of positive effects associated with nausea, from fewer miscarriages to brighter offspring.

Lead researcher, Gideon Koren at the Department of Paediatrics at The Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto states, "The present analysis reveals a consistent, favourable effect of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy on rates of miscarriages, congenital malformations, fetal growth, prematurity, and better developmental outcomes on standard psychological tests."

For instance, the rate of miscarriage among women who had morning sickness-free pregnancies was three times higher than that of women who suffered nausea and vomiting.

The difference in the numbers of premature births between the morning sickness group versus the non-morning sickness group, was 6.4 percent versus 9.5.

Researchers noted that older mothers aged 35 and up, were particularly favored higher rates of morning sickness having a positive outcome.

For those sick while pregnant, the number of babies born with birth defects was between 30 and 80 percent lower than those without nausea and vomiting.

The children born to women with morning sickness had higher IQ test scores at ages 3 through 7 years.

The positive results are believed to correspond to higher hormone levels resulting in sicker mothers. The results seemed especially tied to moderate to severe morning sickness compared to milder cases.

However, this is true only to a point; women who suffer from extreme forms of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum requiring hospital treatment, do not have the same benefits.

A number of women included in the study took anti-nausea medication during pregnancy, and researchers think this may actually skew the positive safety profiles of medications administered to pregnant women.

The researchers noted that while morning sickness does have a definite negative impact on an expectant mother's daily life and life quality, the end does seem to justify the means.

Koren states, "Our analysis indicates that reassuring these women that their severe symptoms may confer favourable fetal outcome in their unborn babies, is logical. While this may not be the case in women experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum, it does seem to be valid for the majority of pregnancies."

This study seems to validate the common wisdom that morning sickness is a good sign of a healthy pregnancy. We've all heard stories of women who miscarried who said earlier, "I just don't feel pregnant. I don't have any symptoms."

Of course, if you are lucky enough to have a fairly nausea-free pregnancy, don't fret over studies such as this. Every woman and each pregnancy is different, and you should always expect a good outcome, because the odds will be overwhelmingly still in your favor in nearly every circumstance.

If you are concerned and things seem different than previous pregnancies, for instance, you should talk to your doctor. A simple ultrasound may be all that's needed to put your mind at ease. Or maybe that first heartbeat you hear pattering and puttering away in the coming weeks.

If you are suffering from severe morning sickness, especially when it's so severe your days and nights are blurs of retching and queasiness, you should see your physician. Some cases are severe enough to warrant a hospital trip complete with IV treatment and tests to make sure everything is OK.

For the rest, who can't stand the smell of most anything without waves of nausea, and don't seem to be able to hold anything down, take heart; it can't last forever. And best of all, you might reap great rewards for your suffering when baby is born.

Related Articles

What Causes Severe Morning Sickness?

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: Severe Morning Sickness

Morning Sickness

Prolonged Morning Sickness

Putting the Brakes on Morning Sickness


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