kate middleton HG

Kate Middleton Is Pregnant, But What Is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?

Today, news that Kate Middleton is pregnant delighted the media and fans alike, but the announcement came as the young royal was hospitalized with the severe and even life-threatening hyperemesis gravidarum — a little known but dangerous condition often dismissed as “morning sickness” but carrying far more risk and complication for sufferers.

The announcement that Kate Middleton is pregnant (something which had been a topic of speculation since the couple wed last year) was coupled with word that the 30-year-old mom-to-be had been hospitalized due to hyperemesis gravidarum, perhaps not how the young couple would have preferred to share the news.

While a statement confirmed that Kate Middleton is pregnant, few details were released as to when the new royal is expected to make his or her appearance — a statement simply explained that the Duchess of Cambridge was indeed expecting, and was hospitalized for a few days due to her hyperemesis gravidarum diagnosis:

“As the pregnancy is in its very early stages, Her Royal Highness is expected to stay in hospital for several days and will require a period of rest thereafter.”

Hyperemesis gravidarum is considered a rare pregnancy complication, affecting just a fraction of pregnant women each year — though the little-known affliction is likely to be better understood after Kate Middleton’s illness during her pregnancy.

The UK’s Mirror consulted with one hyperemesis gravidarum expert, consultant obstetrician Daghni Rajasingam, spokeswoman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Rajasingam breaks down the term and explains that HG is a risk to sufferers like Kate Middleton, who frequently require hospitalization due to the inability to retain fluids and nutrients after constant vomiting:

“In very simple terms hyperemesis means vomiting a lot and gravidarum means in pregnancy. The diagnosis is given when women cannot keep food or fluid down because she has severe vomiting … The women who are vomiting pretty much constantly, that cannot keep any nutrients down, they need to be admitted to hospital.”

While morning sickness is considered to be part and parcel of the pregnancy experience, pregnant women like Kate Middleton who suffer hyperemesis gravidarum are often incapacitated and depression, hallucinations and low baby birth weight are common complications. In severe cases, death can also result from HG — writer Charlotte Brontë is believed to have succumbed to the condition before it was widely recognized.

For an in-depth look at hyperemesis gravidarum, the blog Knocked Up, Knocked Over — started well before the news of Kate Middleton’s pregnancy — offers resources and support for those suffering from or curious about HG.

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