In DepthBiomedicine

Protein may explain morning sickness, and worse

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Science  23 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6382, pp. 1318
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6382.1318

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Summary

An extreme form of the "morning sickness" that afflicts most pregnant women, hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a little-studied condition. Jeopardizing the health of mother and fetus from dehydration and malnourishment, HG hospitalizes at least 60,000 U.S. women a year, but its cause remains unknown. After paralyzing nausea and intractable vomiting caused her to lose the baby she was carrying in 1999, Marlena Fejzo, a geneticist at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to use her professional skills to better understand her tragedy. Now, two studies, one led by Fejzo, suggest that an excess of a blood-borne, placental protein is a cause of HG and perhaps other cases of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Researchers hope the findings may one day lead to novel therapies for a vulnerable population.