Study: Extreme morning sickness linked to higher risk of autism in children

Updated: Oct. 7, 2019 at 10:46 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Severe morning sickness has now been linked to an increased risk of autism in children.

A new groundbreaking study has peeled back the complicated layers of pregnancy; topics ranged from growing bellies to morning sickness and how it may impact children later on in life.

Morning sickness usually occurs in the first trimester of pregnancy and is fairly common; it affects nearly half of pregnant women.

Severe morning sickness, Hyperemesis Gravidarum, is a rare condition that occurs in less than five percent of pregnancies. Kate Middleton was diagnosed with it in 2017 during her pregnancy and spent time in the hospital.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente published a new study in the American Journal of Perinatology about hyperemesis. They looked through hospital records over the last 23 years, diving into the records of 500 thousand pregnant women and their children. Researchers found that moms who battled hyperemesis during pregnancy were 53 percent more likely to have their child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

Doctors point to a lack of nutrition as a possible link. Dehydration can lead to weight loss, electrolyte abnormalities with potassium and sodium, and eventually have long term impacts on children if it's not taken care of properly.

Many times doctors will change a mother's diet if she’s suffering from severe morning sickness. A bland diet, including small and frequent meals, and plenty of fluids are standard when treating hyperemesis. Doctors may also suggest using ginger tea and or low doses of vitamin B6; acupressure has also been known to help.

In extreme cases, hospitalization may be required, with moms-to-be taking how powdered medication and, in rare cases, a semi-permanent feeding tube.

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