Hyperemesis gravidarum: More than just morning sickness, it can be life-threatening, doctors say

You may have noticed that Meteorologist Leslie Lopez has been missing from Eyewitness News lately. Leslie is pregnant with her first child - it's a boy! But she's been suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. Here's what doctors have to say about the condition.

The first thing doctors want you to know about hyperemesis gravidarum - or HG - is that it's not just a case of bad morning sickness, this mysterious condition can lead to severe disability and even death.

Adventist Health Reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Rudy Quintero with Care Fertility is an expert in high risk pregnancies.

"A woman is unable to eat or drink any solid fluids," he said, "We don't really know what causes hyperemesis gravidarum. Some hormones are associated with it, but we don't know what causes it."

HG is not rare at all. It accounts for about 170,000 ER visits in the U.S. each year. It made actress Amy Schumer's first pregnancy very difficult. The condition has also plagued the Duchess of Cambridge throughout her three pregnancies.

It can cause nausea, vomiting, weight loss, electrolyte abnormalities, organ failure and other complications.

"The severity can vary from sometimes very mild to something very extreme," Quintero said.

Treatment includes at-home oral medications, hospitalization, intravenous hydration and some may need assisted feeding to nourish the mom and baby.

"So feeding can be given orally through a tube and more extreme cases to keep the system going," Quintero said.

Doctors point out besides the physical toll of HG, it can also have an emotional and psychological effect. Not just on the pregnant woman but also on her family.

"The patient is fatigued and tired from not having enough nutrition, so daily activities have to be taken care of by the loved one," Quintero said.

He said it's important for women to tell their physician about any unusual symptoms for their sake and for the sake of their unborn child.

"So long as the nourishment and the hydration stays okay, the baby is fine but this is why you have to stay ahead in terms of your hydration and nutrition," Quintero said.
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