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How Morning Sickness Relates to Miscarriage Risk

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Morning sickness is often cited as one of the worst parts of being pregnant. One minute, you're fine, and the next, you're searching for a trash can ASAP. No matter what important things you have going on in a given day, you never know when it might strike. Well, this might make you feel better: Morning sickness may indicate a lower risk of miscarriage, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

For a long time, scientists have thought that morning sickness indicated a healthy pregnancy, but until now there's been weak scientific evidence of correlation between the two. Researchers set out to get a more definitive idea of exactly to what extent morning sickness is an indicator of miscarriage protection. Their findings painted a much clearer picture than what we had before.

By analyzing data from a previous medical trial of almost 800 women who had experienced one to two previous pregnancy losses, the researchers were able to gather information that was collected quite frequently from the test subjects, making it a strong pool of data to pull from. The pregnant women in the trial tracked their symptoms weekly from their second to eighth weeks, and then monthly thereafter. These detailed symptom reports made it possible for the researchers to come to their ultimate conclusion: Pregnant women who experienced nausea or nausea with vomiting were 50 to 75 percent less likely to experience a pregnancy loss.

So why does this link exist? Right now, scientists aren't sure. "There have been some hypotheses that women may change their lifestyle habits in response to feeling nauseous and that this could prevent risky behaviors that have been linked to an increased risk for pregnancy loss, such as smoking and alcohol intake," says Stephanie N. Hinkle, Ph.D, a staff scientist in NICHD's Epidemiology Branch and author of the study. "But we ruled out these factors along with other lifestyle factors such as caffeine and stress. So ultimately, more research is needed." (And in case you were wondering, yes, you should exercise during pregnancy.)

But if you're not experiencing morning sickness, it's not necessarily a reason to worry. "It's important for women who do not have these symptoms to understand that not all pregnancies are the same, and everyone is different," says Hinkle. "So just because you don't have morning sickness doesn't mean you'll go on to have a loss." As always, Hinkle recommends that if you are having symptoms (or a lack of symptoms) that concern you, it's best to check in with your doctor. More than anything, these findings are a glimmer of hope for women who are dealing with morning sickness. While it's an uncomfortable nuisance to deal with, it's good to know that it's also generally an indicator that all is well.

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