Why Does Duchess Kate Get Hyperemesis Gravidarum and Other Questions Answered

Kate Middleton pregnant
Kate Middleton attends the Commonwealth Observance Service at Westminster Abbey on March 9, 2015 in London, England. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Pregnant women are often advised to wait until they pass the 12-week mark, when to the risk of miscarriage drops significantly, to announce they’re expecting. But Duchess Kate, who is still early in her first trimester, went public on Sunday, September 3. It’s not because she couldn’t wait to share the news that Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2, are getting a sibling. The 35-year-old royal is suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, the same acute morning sickness that afflicted her first two pregnancies, and was too ill to attend a planned engagement scheduled for Monday, September 4.

So what is this condition exactly? And why is Duchess Kate suffering from it for a third time? Dr. Sherry Ross, an Ob-Gyn based in Santa Monica, and NYC reproductive endocrinologist Jaime Knopman answer six burning questions.

How Is HG Different From Regular Morning Sickness? While 80 percent of all pregnant women suffer from nausea, HG occurs in just 2 percent of pregnancies. “Persistent nausea and vomiting can become so severe that moms lose weight and become malnourished and dehydrated,” Dr. Ross tells Us Weekly. “In these situations hospitalization intravenous hydration and nutrition are needed.” (Duchess Kate spent three days in the hospital receiving treatment when she was pregnant with Prince George in 2012).

According to Dr. Knopman, HG is the most common reason for a woman in her first trimester to be admitted to the hospital.

Why Is Duchess Kate More Susceptible to HG? “Usually women who get it once are more likely to get it again,” explains Dr. Knopman, co-founder of Truly, MD. “Risk factors include a personal or family history of HG — watch out Pippa! — and a history of motion sickness or migraines.” Women who are expecting multiples are more likely to suffer from HG.

What Are the Symptoms? Imagine the worst hangover ever. “Eating and drinking is a nightmare,” says Dr. Ross. “The thought, smell or sight of food can bring on nausea or vomiting.” Adds the She-ology author: “Women suffering from HG can feel depleted, exhausted and depressed.”

When Will Duchess Kate Feel Better? Unlike morning sickness, which typically subsides in the second trimester, Dr. Ross says HG continues up until 20 weeks of pregnancy. “It tends to improve in the last half of pregnancy,” she notes, “but may persist until delivery.”

Is There Any Remedy? “Eat frequency and often,” says Dr. Ross who recommends foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in fat. “The BRAT diet is always helpful and consists of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Drink cold, clear carbonated beverages in small amounts.” Steer clear of foods that are spicy, salty or high in protein. Per Dr. Ross, natural remedies include:

1. Vitamin B6 25mg taken three times a day

2. Ginger in different forms, such as ginger root boiled in water and ginger root tea

3. Acupuncture and acupressure

Will the Baby be OK? There is evidence of low birth weight in the fetus if the condition is not treated. “But oddly enough there are some studies that women with HG have a lower miscarriage rate,” says Dr. Knopman. “The thinking is that the higher hCG levels indicate a healthy and robust placenta. The better the placenta, the better the chance that the pregnancy will progress.”

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