A survey of more than 5000 women with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), published today in Obstetric Medicine, details the harrowing illness.

The survey, which is the largest study into the condition, was developed as a collaboration between the BBC and the Pregnancy Sickness Support charity, who sent their members. The results were analysed by researchers from King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. The authors analysed 5500 free text comments and also showed an association between the level of care patients perceive they have received from healthcare professions and outcomes such as poor mental health and termination of pregnancy.

HG is defined as persistent and excessive nausea and vomiting that affects 0.3-3.6% of pregnancies. Of the women surveyed, 67.8% were bedridden throughout their pregnancy and needed daily support. This impacted on their ability to go to work and caring responsibilities.

Lead author, Dr Melanie Nana from King’s College London, said: “This study describes the lived experience of many women across the UK who have suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum and reflects our clinical experience of looking after such patients. It highlights the importance of ensuring women can easily access anti-sickness medication in a timely fashion, the need to provide good guidance for the healthcare professionals looking after them and the great value of mental health support in women who need it.”

Senior author, Professor Catherine Williamson from King’s College London, said: “This study has confirmed the urgent need for further research into this devastating condition. We hope that the work we are currently carrying out at King’s College London will allow us to find out more about the effects that hyperemesis gravidarum has on both the mother and developing child and also about what causes this illness. By answering these questions, we will be able to develop more effective treatments, improving the care of these women.”

If you have been, or are currently, affected by hyperemesis gravidarum you can visit the Pregnancy Sickness Support website or call their helpline: 024 7638 2020 (mon-fri 9am-5pm).