A young pregnant woman of African decent sits on a sofa in the comfort of her own home as she cradles her belly with her hands. She is dressed casually as she looks down at her belly with anticipation.

Scientists Make Major Breakthrough in Treating Morning Sickness

One of my most vivid memories of my first pregnancy is sitting at my desk at work, staring intently at the door to the restroom, willing myself not to throw up. Now it looks like other pregnant people may not have to suffer like I did.

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Nausea and vomiting—euphemistically called “morning sickness”—can be one of the hardest parts of pregnancy. Despite the name, the nausea can go on for 24 hours a day, every day, for months. If you’re lucky, like I was, it can just make life really unpleasant. For a lot of people, though, the inability to keep food down can lead to malnutrition, miscarriage, and even death.

If your morning sickness is relatively mild, you can get by with home remedies: bland foods, sour candies, and lots of ginger and peppermint. If it gets to the point where you can’t function, doctors can prescribe medication (like a doctor did for me in my second pregnancy). However, healthcare that primarily affects women is rife with misinformation, disbelief, and a lack of research, which means that many pregnant people’s symptoms are dismissed.

But there may be hope in sight—if more doctors and researchers start taking the condition seriously.

One intrepid researcher fights the odds to pinpoint the cause of morning sickness

According to The New York Times, Dr. Marlena Fejzo, a geneticist who lost a pregnancy to severe morning sickness, originally applied for funding from the National Institutes of Health to study the condition. However, her application was rejected.

Fejzo then turned to the genetic testing service 23AndMe, which gathered data on morning sickness from its clients. Using that data, Fejzo was able to pinpoint a possible cause of morning sickness: a hormone called GDF15. This hormone causes nausea in response to stresses placed on the body.

This discovery could be life-changing for pregnant people. For example, the research team who led the study believes that exposing people to low doses of the hormone before they get pregnant could desensitize them to its effects.

Morning sickness is often treated as an inevitable symptom of pregnancy. Who can keep track of all the movies and TV shows in which someone realizes they’re pregnant after they run to the bathroom to puke? But the symptom isn’t universal, and it doesn’t have to endanger pregnant people’s health and well-being. Here’s hoping that soon, morning sickness is a thing of the past.

(via The New York Times, featured image: FatCamera/Getty Images)

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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>