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For as many as 90 percent of all pregnant women, morning sickness is an expected part of the gestational experience. This period of nausea and vomiting is not just limited to the morning and it’s not exclusive to the first trimester of pregnancy, contrary to popular belief. It’s unknown exactly what causes it, although some doctors believe it may be a reaction to the pregnancy hormone. For most women, it’s deeply unpleasant but manageable.

For a few, however, it can be devastating or even deadly. Morning sickness can be so violent and severe that a woman might vomit as much as fifty times a day, in a severe complication of pregnancy known as hyperemesis gravidarum. This condition, which affects up to 3 percent of pregnancies, leads to dehydration and starvation, endangering her wellbeing as well as that of the fetus.

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