Call for women with hyperemesis gravidarum to take part in Guy’s and St Thomas’ study to help understand causes and find new treatments

Katherine Johnston (18 May, 2019)

Sufferers can vomit 50 times a day

29605Professor Cath Williamson, the study lead

Guy’s and St Thomas’ is looking for women suffering from extreme morning sickness to join the world’s largest study into the condition.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is an extreme type of pregnancy sickness where women repeatedly vomit throughout the day and are often unable to hold down any food or drink.

The condition can have serious complications, leading to weight loss, dehydration and malnutrition that can affect both the mother and baby’s health.

Current treatments include anti-sickness drugs, vitamins and steroids.

In recent years public awareness of the condition has been raised after the Duchess of Cambridge suffered from it during her three pregnancies.

Although around seven in ten women experience some nausea or sickness while pregnant, it is unknown how many will suffer from this extreme form of sickness. The causes are also unclear.

Research has found some evidence it may run in families, leading to the theory it could be genetic. It could also be caused by hormonal changes in pregnancy. It is hoped the study could lead to new treatments.

Participants will first give blood samples, information about their medical history, and agree to being contacted in future to take part in further studies and trials.

This could involve testing new treatments, or looking in more detail at factors which could have caused their illness.

Professor Catherine Williamson, consultant obstetric physician and chair in women’s health at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London said: “Hyperemesis gravidarum is often referred to as ‘severe morning sickness’ but it’s so much more than that.

“Women with the condition may vomit up to 50 times a day and for some this lasts for the entire pregnancy.

“This can then lead to complications which can be extremely dangerous and even fatal in pregnancy.

“We don’t know very much about why some women get hyperemesis gravidarum and others don’t, and there is an urgent need to look at this in more depth and to find out more.

“Our research is trying to find out about the causes of this illness.

“We hope that by understanding more, we can work towards better treatment and care to make pregnancy much easier for women with hyperemesis gravidarum.”

To find out more about the study, held by the trust with King’s College, visit:

Women can also register their interest by emailing


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