Researchers claim to have found a link connecting a severe form of morning sickness experienced by expectant mothers with an increased chance that the reculting child will suffer from depression and other mental disorders later in life. The percentages are small, but significant. Judge for yourself.Researchers at the University of California in the US have found that there is a significant link between morning sickness in pregnancy and the likelihood of the unborn child suffering from mental illness in later life. The results of the study showed that adults with mothers who are exhibiting severe morning sickness are four times more likely to suffer from depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety.
The severity of Morning sickness in expectant mothers
Morning sickness is intrinsically linked with pregnancy – it is a natural occurrence that is expected to happen. So we need to make clear that it is not just morning sickness alone but an extreme form of morning sickness named hyperemesis gravidarum or HG. Whereas the characteristics of normal morning sickness is intermittent nausea and vomiting, with HG it is persistent. It can lead to dehydration and malnutrition and ultimately hospitalisation.
Behavioural disorders as well as psychological disorders
The study's co-author, Dr Marlena Fejzo, of the University of Southern California, explained that the results showed, that even though a small proportion of the adults tested had a form of mental illness as an adult, the comparison with the control group was quite startling. The study found that the 16% of siblings in the group that had been exposed to HG had depression as adults, compared to just 3% of the group not exposed. It was also apparent that 8% from the HG group had bipolar disorder compared to 2% of the other group, while 7% had anxiety compared to 2%. An overview of the study showed that 38% of the cases from the exposed group are reported to have a psychological and/or behavioural disorder, as compared to 15% of controls. It was also significant that adults exposed to HG in utero are significantly more likely to have a psychological and/or behavioural disorder than non-exposed adults," the researchers said. The researcher’s assumption is the foetus’ brain development is affected by the mother’s dehydration and malnutrition.
The good news is the prevalence of HG is relatively low. It is considered a rare complication and estimates of the percentage of pregnant women afflicted range from 0.3% to 2.0%. Its causes are unknown though it more likely to occur in women experiencing their first pregnancy, or who have a relatively high body weight.