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Effects of Vomiting on Fetus During Pregnancy

Q: Can vomiting hurt the fetus during pregnancy?

A: Vomiting normally does not harm the fetus. If the pregnant mom is vomiting excessively, something called 'hyperemesis gravidarum' then the larger danger is the threat of dehydration. Dehydration can cause problems with the fetus and with mom's health. If nausea is severe and mom is not able to keep any food or drink down, she may need to be admitted to the hospital for IV fluids and nutrition in order to reduce the risk to both mom and baby. There are approved medications that can be taken during pregnancy to reduce the nausea associated with morning sickness.

Some pregnant women worry that the act of retching can cause a miscarriage. This is just a myth as the muscles of the stomach are not associated with the safety of baby. There is some concern; however, about the ketone levels in the body when the pregnant woman is vomiting regularly. When the body becomes dehydrated, the liver produces ketones in order to supply energy to the body. These ketones can be measured in the urine and blood. Ketones can be harmful to baby.

If the pregnant woman is experiencing severe nausea which does not allow her to keep any food in the stomach, is experiencing pain associated with the vomiting, has a fever or continues to vomit past the 14th week of pregnancy, medical attention should be sought as there could be an underlying problem that is causing the vomiting other than morning sickness. Keeping the obstetrician informed about the morning sickness can prevent further problems from occurring.

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