Politics

Kate Middleton Diagnosed with Rare and Debilitating Pregnancy Condition

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While it is certainly happy news that Kate Middleton and Prince William are expecting a baby, it looks as if it will be a tough pregnancy for Kate. The dutchess has been diagnosed with a rare condition called hyperemesis gravidarum. 

The condition hits women in the early stages of pregnancy, according to the Daily Mail, and causes severe vomiting and nausea. 

Kate was admitted into the hospital after she started feeling sick over the weekend at her parents' home in Bucklebury, Berkshire. She has been given a drip to restore nutrient and fluid levels and is to be kept in the hospital for a few days.

This is undoubtedly the reason for the early announcement of her pregnancy, as Senior Royal sources say there was no way they would have announced it this soon had she not fallen ill.

The condition is usually hereditary, so it is likely that a close relative to her suffered from the same illness. It also means that she may get it again in the future if she decides to have more children. 

It is also somewhat more common in women expecting twins. Professor Tim Draycott, of the Royal College of Obstretricians and Gynecologists says "it affects one per cent of women. That rises to two to three per of women expecting twins."

Draycott explains the illness as feeling "permanently hungover every single day and never getting better."

Her symptoms suggest she is "less than 12 weeks pregnant" and may indicate that she cannot eat or drink anything without being ill. This could happen for up to two months, but in some serious cases, symptoms do not disappear until the baby is born. 

Some women with the condition vomit up to 30 times a day. Other symptoms include severe nausea, low blood pressure and fast heart rate, headaches, lethargy, and confusion.

If the condition is not treated properly, problems can occur for both mother and baby. Lucy MacKillop, obstetric physician at the Oxford University Hospitals, says the "danger for mother is greater if not treated. There have been reported cases of liver failure, ruptured tissue and cells from so much vomiting and neurological problems."

It seems to be related to the pregnancy hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin). The rise in hormone levels causes some women to be sick, and this usually occurs during weeks six and eight of pregnancy when the placenta starts producing hormones. 

Kate will have to be monitored and take special care in her eating habits. While there is not a special diet, doctors say it is important to eat little and often. 

She will also have to watch her weight, as women with the condition can lose five percent of their body weight. She will have to go in for weekly weight measurements. 

Other women who have experienced the condition have great sympathy for Kate. Caitlin Dean suffered from it and said it is like having a "stomach bug that lasts for days and days, months and months - it is just relentless."

"Any movement, any sound, any smell just makes you vomit," Dean explained. 

While it is a frightening condition to have, it is also a sign that the pregnancy is going as planned. 

Dr. Peter Bowen-Simpkins, a consultant obstetrician and medical director of the London Women's Clinic, said "it is almost always a positive sign that the pregnancy is progressing well."

If the condition stops before 12 or 14 weeks, it can mean that the pregnancy is not progressing well. 

Fortunately, treating the condition properly means Kate and William can likely expect a healthy child and mother.

Jules Ronertson, a midwife, says "the condition - although unpleasant - poses no harm to mother and baby as long as it is treated, as your baby will take the nutrients it needs from your body. It is the mum that suffers more."