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Prenatal exposure to hyperemesis gravidarum linked to increased risk of psychological and behavioral disorders in adulthood

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2011

P. M. Mullin
Department of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
A. Bray
Department of Statistics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
F. Schoenberg
Department of Statistics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
K. W. MacGibbon
Hyperemesis Education and Research Foundation, Leesburg, VA, USA
R. Romero
Department of Health and Human Services, NICHD, NIH, DHHS, Perinatology Research Branch, Bethesda, MD, and Detroit, MI, USA
T. M. Goodwin
Department of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
M. S. Fejzo*
Department of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA Department of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
*Address for correspondence: Dr M. S. Fejzo, Ph.D., 5535 MRL Building. 675 Charles E Young Dr South, LA, CA 90095, USA. (Email


Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, is characterized by long-term maternal stress, undernutrition and dehydration. While maternal stress and malnutrition of pregnancy are linked to poor neonatal outcome and associated with poor adult health, long-term outcome of fetal exposure to HG has never been explored. The purpose of this study is to determine whether long-term emotional and behavioral diagnoses may be associated with fetal exposure to HG. Emotional and behavioral diagnoses of adults born of a pregnancy complicated by HG were compared to diagnoses from non-exposed controls. Offspring exposed to HG in utero were significantly more likely to have a psychological and behavioral disorder (OR = 3.6, P < 0.0001) with diagnoses primarily of depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. In utero exposure to HG may lead to increased risks of psychological and behavioral disorders in the offspring.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press and the International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease 2011

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These authors contributed equally.


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