Medical Definition of Pernicious vomiting of pregnancy

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Pernicious vomiting of pregnancy: Medically known as hyperemesis gravidarum, this is excessive vomiting in early pregnancy. By definition, hyperemesis gravidarum, leads to the loss of 5% or more of the body weight of the woman.

Hyperemesis gravidarum affects about one in every 300 pregnant women. It is more common in young women, in first pregnancies and in women with multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.)

Hyperemesis gravidarum is usually self-limited (stops on its own) and, although very inconvenient and very discomforting, it is usually of little clinical consequence. However, sometimes hyperemesis can keep the mother from getting the necessary fluids and nutrition.

Some women with hyperemesis gravidarum have high concentrations of the hormones hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) or estrogen or thyroid hormones in the blood. A few women also have clinical manifestations of hyperthyroidism (over-active thyroid state).

The treatment of mild hyperemesis gravidarum is usually with dietary measures, rest and antacids. Severe hyperemesis gravidarum may call for hospitalization for intravenous fluid and nutrition.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is the Latin for excessive vomiting in pregnancy. Hyper means "over"; emesis means "vomiting"; and gravidarum means "pregnant state."

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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