A hormone secreted by the fetus is linked to the nausea and vomiting that many women experience during pregnancy, according to a study published in the journal Nature.
Nausea and vomiting are present in one pregnancy in every ten. Furthermore, one in every 100 women presents severe symptoms, the so-called “hyperemesis gravidarum”, a frequent cause of hospitalization in women with pregnancies of less than three months.
In recent years, celebrities such as Kate Middleton and Tatá Werneck have reported having lived with the condition during their pregnancies.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge associated with academics from Scotland, the United States and Sri Lanka published a study in Nature that indicates that the condition is associated with a hormone secreted by the fetus known as GDF15.
Researchers have shown that nausea and vomiting in pregnant women depend on the amount of GDF15 produced by the fetus and placenta that reaches the mother’s bloodstream and the specific sensitivity that a woman has to this substance.
The study raised the possibility that some women have a higher genetic risk of experiencing hyperemesis gravidarum, as they have lower levels of this hormone in their blood when they are not pregnant.
The fetus growing in the womb “produces the hormone at levels that the mother is not used to. The more sensitive she is to this hormone, the worse she will feel”, summarized Professor Stephen O’Rahillu, co-director of the Institute of Metabolic Sciences at University of Cambridge and one of the study’s authors.
The University of Cambridge said that understanding this mechanism opens a path to treating malaise.