Science Confirms Morning Sickness Is a Good Sign

Are you struggling with morning sickness? If so, take comfort in the fact it can actually be a sign of a healthy pregnancy.

Morning Sickness 9-5
Photo: Danielle Guenther Photography

Anyone who has ever dealt with morning sickness will tell you there is nothing pleasant about round-the-clock nausea, food aversions, and frequent vomit breaks that characterize the early part of pregnancy for so many.

But if you're among those who experience morning (or all-day) sickness, there's some good news: A 2016 JAMA study confirms some pretty amazing benefits that come along with these icky side effects.

Read on to learn about the connection between morning sickness and healthy pregnancies.

Is Morning Sickness Protective?

The idea that morning sickness could indicate a healthy pregnancy is nothing new. Researchers have speculated that morning sickness could be a body's way of eliminating toxins to keep fetuses safe. And more current research seems to back up this theory.

For this particular study, researchers observed about 800 pregnant people who had experienced a miscarriage in the past, making a note of their morning sickness symptoms. Of those surveyed, 188 experienced miscarriages during the trial.

According to the findings, people who experienced morning sickness by the eighth week of pregnancy were 75% less likely to miscarry.

Study author Stefanie N. Hinkle, Ph.D., who is an assistant professor of epidemiology at Perelman School of Medicine, told Science Alert that while nausea and healthy pregnancy are commonly associated, there was no previously high-quality evidence to support that hypothesis.

This study, however, evaluated symptoms from the earliest weeks of pregnancy and confirmed a protective association between morning sickness and a lower risk of pregnancy loss.

In fact, this study began evaluating nausea and vomiting symptoms between gestational weeks two through eight (the early end of which would not yet be clinically recognized pregnancies). Prior studies focused on clinically recognized pregnancies, thus missing early losses.

Is Lack of Morning Sickness a Risk?

But does this mean people who don't experience morning sickness are in danger? Fortunately, no.

For one thing, those involved in the study had already experienced miscarriages before the trial. So it's possible that they don't necessarily represent the average pregnancy.

It's also important to remember that these studies measure statistics, not cause-and-effect. And, of course, you have to remember that while morning sickness can be a good sign during pregnancy, this issue isn't black and white. Therefore, a lack of nausea is definitely not a sign that anything is going wrong in your pregnancy.

As Dr. Hinkle told The Atlantic, everyone is different. The absence of symptoms does not mean someone will experience a pregnancy loss.

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