We finally know why pregnant women experience nausea

About the episode

Seven out of ten women experience nausea during pregnancy. For some women, it gets so bad that they have to be hospitalized. Researchers from the University of Cambridge, among others, have now discovered the cause of this nausea.

The reason is a hormone produced by the fetus: a protein called GDF15. It appears that the extent to which a woman experiences nausea due to the presence of this hormone depends on the amount of this protein and exposure to it before pregnancy.

This also immediately creates an entry point for a new treatment, because even though treatments already exist, they don’t work well yet.

GDF15 is also produced in the body outside of pregnancy. But if it is in lower than average amounts, which is genetically determined, there is a greater possibility that someone will suffer from nausea during pregnancy, when this amount suddenly increases.

The idea now is that it may be possible to accustom women to the presence of the hormone in the period leading up to pregnancy.

It is also being investigated whether it is possible to prevent the hormone from binding to the super-specific receptor in a pregnant woman’s brain. Until then the nausea may resolve.

Read more about the research here: Why do seven out of ten women suffer from pregnancy nausea?

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Megan Vasquez

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