A mum-of-two has described her horrendous experience with morning sickness while pregnant, which was so severe she almost died.
Sarah Titmus suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) in both of her pregnancies, causing her to experience constant vomiting and nausea.
Ms Titmus, from Coventry, West Midlands, said she was unable to eat or drink and could not even keep a sip of water down.
The condition caused her to shed four stone in weight and she faced life-threatening malnutrition, leading to her being hospitalised twice.
On one occasion, her blood potassium levels dropped so low that a doctor warned her that she might not wake up in the morning unless she was rushed to intensive care.
Around one in 100 women suffer with HG while pregnant, including the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, but not much is known about its long-term effects.
Thankfully, Ms Titmus has now recovered and has two healthy girls, Lihanna-Marrie, five, and six-month-old Layla-Mya.
She explained: “I lost four stones in weight and was told I was close to death. It was like having a 24-hour sickness bug for nine months.
“Fortunately both my daughters appear to be healthy and developing normally, but it’s a worry that the severe symptoms I suffered could have lifelong impacts for them and there isn’t enough knowledge about that.”
Calls for further research
Ms Titmums is now pleading with mums-to-be to take part in a University of Plymouth study to identify if, and to what extent, women’s outcomes differ from others who experience mild to no symptoms while pregnant, as well as understanding the long-term impacts of the condition.
The study will explore the nutritional intake and wellbeing of women experiencing severe pregnancy sickness, and will run with the help of national charity Pregnancy Sickness Support.
The charity is inviting women less than 11 weeks pregnant to take part, with the hope it will help to provide insights into pregnancy outcomes.
Ms Titmus said: “The truth is, so many people – health professionals included – don’t understand HG.
“My poor partner was acting as mum and dad to our eldest when I was pregnant with my second, as I was bedbound.
“It can put huge pressure on all the family. We need to know more about the long term impacts of the condition, so this research is vital.”
Research to date suggests that malnutrition in pregnancy can have immediate and long-term effects for the baby, but the degree of malnutrition in women with HG has never actually been studied.
As well as looking for women in the first trimester who have HG, the study needs to recruit those in the first trimester with mild to no symptoms.
Dr Kate Maslin, senior research fellow in maternal and child health at the University of Plymouth, and one of the researchers in the study, said: “There are so few studies out there that show who might be affected by HG and how it affects mother and baby.
“We need women with and without the condition to take part and help us provide more evidence on a condition that is so often misunderstood.
“We are especially interested to know more about eating habits as we know that women with severe sickness often struggle to keep down any food or fluids.”
Participants will be asked to keep a food diary on a phone app and take part in online questionnaires.
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