Lots of women suffer from morning sickness. According to the NHS, around of half of all pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting, with around three in 10 experiencing nausea without vomiting.
But less than one per cent have such severe symptoms as the Duchess of Cambridge.
The condition is widely thought to have forced the Palace to reveal Kate is pregnant before the couple were ready, with sources only saying she is less than 12 weeks pregnant. Most women prefer to wait until they hit the three-month mark before telling anyone outside their close circle of family and friends.
Kate has been admitted to King Edward VII Hospital suffering from Hyperemesis gravidarum, or extreme morning sickness. But what exactly is the condition?
As Jo Frost’s supernanny website points out: “Becoming pregnant should be a joy, but for those women who suffer from Hyperemesis, it becomes something more akin to a nightmare.”
For women with the condition, the problem is potentially dangerous. They suffer from vomiting so severe they can’t keep any food or liquid down, leading to possible dehydration, weight loss and a build-up of toxins in the blood or urine.
The BBC’s Health site lists symptoms as weight loss, usually around 10 per cent of their body weight. With Kate already so slim, it’s sure to be a concern if she loses any more weight. Women also can feel tired and dizzy. The NHS adds that the condition can lead to ketosis, a serious condition caused by a raised number of ketones, poisonous acidic chemicals, in the blood.
The site goes on to say: “The symptoms can have a significant effect on your life and may lead to further complications, such as depression.”
The cause of extreme morning sickness isn’t known, but is thought to be down to hormonal changes in the body. A recent study suggested there could also be a genetic element at play. Lead author Marlena Fejzo, who is an assistant professor at both the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Keck School of Medicine of USC, said: “Pregnant women with a family history of extreme nausea in pregnancy should be aware that they may have it too, and health care providers should take a family history of nausea in pregnancy at the first visit with an obstetrician. The high familial prevalence strongly suggests a genetic component to this condition.”
According to the babycentre, treatment includes anti-sickness drugs. As keeping pills down can be just as tricky as keeping food and drink down, some medication can be dissolved under your tongue instead of you having to swallow it.
As Kate has been admitted to hospital, it is likely she was offered treatment from her GP or midwife, which may have failed to help, before being admitted to hospital.
Talking about a typical case, the babycentre goes on to say: “Once in hospital, you may be given fluids through a vein in your arm to replace lost fluids, vitamins and minerals. Anti-sickness drugs and vitamins, especially vitamin B1 may be added to your drip or given to you by injection.”
Already, Kate has been flooded by messages of support from fellow sufferers. One forum user said: “I hope that Kate does not have too severe a relationship with it (and I know she’ll get the best of care) and that she and the baby make it through as easily as they can. No one deserves HG.”