As news of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge's pregnancy with what will be the heir to the British throne spread this week, word also emerged of the reason the Duchess, the former Kate Middleton, has been hospitalized. The reason is a relatively rare condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, or H.G., and it is essentially a severe form of morning sickness.
The New York Times published a Q&A with Dr. Marlena Fejzo, an H.G. researcher, on the condition and its impact on pregnancy and the pregnant woman. She said the condition, which involves a rapid--and up to 5 percent--weight loss and severe nausea and vomiting, is rare, affecting only 0.2 percent of women worldwide. Before the advent of IV fluids in the 1950s, it was a leading cause of death among pregnant women, although today it is relatively easy to treat. From the interview:
"Doctors try to give IV and anti-nausea medication at first. About 20 percent of the women who contact the Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation require tube feeding. It's very serious. They have to have a tube inserted above their heart. Blood tests have to be done every day, or every other day, and the bag of nutrients has to be monitored to make sure it's personalized for the woman's needs. But I don't think Kate Middleton (based on news reports) has it that bad. She's just gone in for the IV fluids."