Health & Wellness

Scientists Have Discovered The Reason We Feel Nauseous During Pregnancy

Scientists have made a breakthrough in women’s health.

Scientists have made a breakthrough in women’s health and discovered the reason women experience nausea during pregnancy

The study, undertaken by researchers at the University of Cambridge in England, found that nausea and vomiting is caused by a single hormone called GDF15. 

By measuring levels of this hormone in pregnant women, the researchers were able to connect higher levels of GDF15 to more severe cases of nausea. 

Scientists have discovered the reason women experience nausea during pregnancy.
(Credit: Getty )

With as many as seven in ten women experiencing nausea during pregnancy, and one and three out of 100 women experiencing a severe type of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum, the discovery could lead to better ways of treating pregnancy nausea.

Considering that hyperemesis gravidarum is the leading cause of hospitalisations in early pregnancy, as well as increasing the chances of a preterm birth, pre-eclampsia and blood clots, this discovery could be life-saving for both mother and baby.

Several celebrities, including Kate Middleton, Amy Schumer and Kim Kardashian, have been open about their hyperemesis gravidarum, it’s not uncommon for medical specialists to overlook the condition as regular pregnancy nausea.

The study’s co-author and geneticist at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Dr. Marlena Fejzo told The New York Times that the condition still isn’t been treated as seriously as it should be.

“I’ve been working on this for 20 years and yet there are still reports of women dying from this and women being mistreated,” Dr Fezjo explained.

nausea during pregnancy
Severe pregnancy nausea can lead to hospitalisations. (Credit: Getty )

In the study, researchers also found that the hormone’s effect depended on both the body’s sensitivity and prior exposure to the hormone. Women who lived with disorders that caused chronically high levels of GDF15 rarely experienced nausea during their pregnancies.

According to researchers, the findings may lead to the development of medications that can block the hormone’s effects in the brain. While these medications are already being trailed for cancer patients, clinical studies would need to determine whether they are safe for pregnancy.

Alternatively, women at risk from hyperemesis gravidarum could be exposed to the hormone prior to pregnancy in order to reduce the effects when they do become pregnant.

Either way, the research is a huge breakthrough for women’s health.

Related stories