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17th June 2010, 9:56am
New findings about sickness in pregnancy - causes and treatment
pregnancy The latest research into severe sickness during pregnancy - its causes, treatment and the psychological effects on the sufferer - will be presented at the first national conference on the subject being held on 1 July 2010.

Academics, experts and sufferers of the condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum will share their knowledge and experiences at the conference, which is being held in collaboration with the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support at the University of Warwick.

Presentations will include findings that indicate that women who experience significant vomiting are less likely to breast feed their baby, favouring the use of formula milk; a new theory that nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) may be linked to protein deficiency; a new treatment protocol for women with hyperemesis gravidarum and the effectiveness of this new approach; the impact of NVP on women’s mental health in Canada; the impact on NVP on the well-being of a group of British women.

Conference organiser Dr. Brian Swallow, a senior lecturer in Psychology from the University of Lincoln, has spent the last 10 years researching the condition, which currently has no single medical explanation or standard method of treatment.

He said: “At least 70% of women experience nausea and sickness in pregnancy, however, a large number of these women experience quite severe sickness which involves a disruption to their daily lives such as time off from work.  Around one in 100 women experience the symptoms so severely that they have to be admitted to hospital to avoid dehydration and starvation. It can be so extreme that termination of the pregnancy becomes a serious option for the sufferer.

“The exact cause of the condition is not known and I have discovered that there is no single treatment protocol; each case is dealt with in the community by the GP or local hospital, with differing levels of success.”

Whatever the cause, the condition has a significant effect on the woman, as one of Dr Swallow’s study participants described: “Unless experienced, few realise how debilitating the constant sickness is. I throw up at night, mornings, during the day, and even when my stomach is empty.”

The conference aims to bring together recent research into the condition and agreement of a single assessment and treatment plan which is followed by all hospitals and GPs in the UK.

In addition to scientific papers and presentations, the conference hopes to attract past and present sufferers and their carers. “We want to find out what their experiences are and how women feel that they could be better supported,” said Brian.  “In our research women have consistently said that they feel there is insufficient help and support so it is important that we attempt to obtain their views first hand.”

Former President of the Royal College of Midwives, Dame Lorna Muirhead will open the conference. Presenters include: Dr Adrienne Einarson, Motherisk, Toronto, Canada; Dr. Brian Swallow, Senior Lecturer in Psychology - University of Lincoln; Dr Tonie Barnie Adshead, GP; Dr Roger Gadsby, Associate Clinical Professor  - University of Warwick; Mr Christoph Lees, Consultant in Obstetrics and Fetal Maternal Medicine - Cambridge.

The conference will take place at the University of Warwick Conference Centre on 1 July 2010.

Further details of the conference can be obtained from Terry Salter,, or from

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