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NICE recommends treatments for pregnancy sickness in new draft guidance

Published on 11/02/21 at 11:07am

NICE has recommended treatment options for severe pregnancy sickness for the first time, issuing recommendations in draft guidance published today.

Nausea and vomiting, often referred to as morning sickness, is common in pregnancy. Almost 80% of pregnant women experience these symptoms, with most conditions improving or stopping completely by around 16 to 20 weeks, but in a small percentage of pregnant women, the condition can be more serious. Between 0.3% and 3.6% of pregnant women experience excessive nausea and vomiting known as hyperemesis gravidarum, which can sometimes lead to hospitalisation.

New recommendations from NICE advise the use of pharmacological antiemetics (anti-sickness medicines), acupressure, and intravenous fluids to treat these extreme cases of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, in line with guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

The new draft guideline replaces the recommendations from NICE’s 2008 guidance on antenatal care, and aims to improve consistency of care across the country. The recommendations are based on evidence collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Paul Chrisp, Director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said: “While non-pharmacological treatments may help the majority of women experiencing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, hyperemesis gravidarum can be extremely serious, and it is essential that effective treatment options are available.

“It is our hope that this guidance will help inform clinicians of the value of treatments like antiemetics and acupressure, and enable them to provide care that keeps women safe and healthy throughout their pregnancy.”

Dr Edward Morris, President at the RCOG, also commented: “We’re very pleased that NICE have updated their guidance on antenatal care and have included the debilitating condition hyperemesis gravidarum. This new guidance now reflects and is consistent with the guidance produced by the RCOG in 2016.

“We would encourage all hospitals to implement and follow these guidelines so that women are provided with high quality care throughout their pregnancy. It’s important pregnant women feel listened to and are offered regular check-ups, information, and support throughout. We know the pandemic has added a layer of anxiety for many women who are navigating pregnancy under difficult restrictions, and we support a consistent approach to care across all Trusts.”

Darcy Jimenez

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