Pregnant women are consistently being denied drugs to help treat nausea and vomiting symptoms because of misleading labels and lack of awareness.
The research, published in ANZJOG, which coincided with International Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness day on May 15th, surveyed 249 Australian women who suffered from severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
One in four women reported being denied anti-nausea medications at some stage during pregnancy.
Caitlin Kay-Smith, co-author and founder of the consumer organization Hyperemesis Australia, has committed her life to improving awareness and supporting women suffering from HG.
“HG is a severe form of NVP and affects 5-10% of pregnancies. Research shows that women with HG have a higher risk of negative maternal and fetal outcomes, but these possible harms are poorly recognized. This means that ensuring women have access to safe and effective treatments is really important. ”
Associate Professor Luke Grzeskowiak, a Hospital Research Foundation Mid-Career Fellow at Flinders University and SAHMRI, says women’s feelings of not being taken seriously or the trivialisation of symptoms is a common finding in studies and needs to be addressed appropriately.
“Underlying explanations for women being denied access to medications can include a lack of provider awareness of clinical practice guidelines, misleading labeling produced by pharmaceutical manufacturers (eg most doxylamine packaging states not to use during pregnancy), or genuine concern or uncertainty regarding the fetal safety of specific medications with or without consideration of the benefits of treatment. ”
The researchers state fresh approaches to identify and effectively address barriers towards the provision of effective treatments for severe NVP and HG while pregnant are urgently needed.
Symptoms of NVP and HG
(NVP and HG – Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy and Hyperemesis Gravidarum)
Given that many women expect to be unwell in the first trimester, they may turn to their local pharmacist for advice rather than speaking to their doctor or midwife about it. For this reason, pharmacists and their staff are a vital source of support of information for women.
As with most chronic illnesses, there is a spectrum of symptoms that may or may not be present in someone suffering from NVP or HG.
Symptoms usually begin in the first trimester at about 6-8 weeks gestation, typically peaking at about 9-weeks and settling about 14-weeks for NVP; HG commonly persists until 21-weeks and for some, it will continue throughout the pregnancy until delivery.
Most commonly sufferers will be experiencing one or more of these as a result of the nausea and/or vomiting.
- Loss of 5% (or more) of pre-pregnancy weight
- Nutritional disorders, such as vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) deficiency or vitamin B12 (cobalamin) deficiency
- Metabolic imbalances such as metabolic ketoacidosis or thyrotoxicosis
- Headaches or migraines
- Aversions to food (including the sight or smell)
- Excessive salivation
- Low blood pressure
- Raised pulse
Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: Nausea, vomiting and/or dry retching caused by pregnancy, with symptoms commencing in the first trimester without an alternate diagnosis.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum: Nausea and/or vomiting caused by pregnancy leading to a significant reduction of oral intake and weight loss of at least 5% compared with pre-pregnancy, with or without dehydration and/or electrolyte abnormalities. By definition, this condition is considered severe.
Celebs who suffered severe morning sickness
We bet these mums didn’t have to suffer from relentless vomiting and nausea alone and denied treatment!
It has been well reported that Duchess Kate Middleton suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum when she was pregnant with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.
Other celebrity mums, including Amy Schumer, Kelly Clarkson, Tori Spelling, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian both suffered along with Amber Rose, who also opened up about their own similar experiences.