Monday, November 14, 2011

The Biology of Morning Sickness


After a rough night, I decided to look up the reasons behind "morning" sickness and came across this interesting article: http://discovermagazine.com/2000/sep/featbiology. There was a study done by Cornell on 79,000 pregnancies in 16 countries. A full 28 percent of women couldn't eat animal products including fish, poultry, meat and eggs.

The article goes on to say, "To most women, morning sickness seems to begin and end arbitrarily, yet its timing makes sense: A fetus's major organs develop between six and 14 weeks after conception. That's also when a mother's immune response temporarily weakens, giving the embryo time to burrow into the uterine wall. As a result, pregnant women are especially susceptible to bacteria, viruses, and tumor cells during those weeks. For example, spoiled food commonly contains toxoplasma, a protozoan parasite. Toxoplasma is usually harmless, but early in pregnancy it can cause maternal infection and possible miscarriage. Once the fetus is less vulnerable--after the first trimester, say--the nutritional value of meat outweighs the risk, and the aversion usually subsides."

The article also mentions, "Morning sickness is a misnomer," Paul Sherman explained recently, over lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant on the edge of the Cornell campus. "It's not always in the morning but happens all day long for most women. And it's not a real sickness, but really something positive." Getting sick makes sense early in pregnancy, Sherman says. When the body is invaded by something--be it a virus or a ball of foreign cells called an embryo--nausea often results. Estrogen, progestin, and other hormones clearly mediate this response, and studies show that women who have some form of sickness are less likely to miscarry."

So, what I will take from this, hopefully this will leave by week 14 (which is exactly when Christmas will be here) and that it means that we have a very healthy baby.