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New Consensus on Managing Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy

Although the nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy are usually mild, they are more severe (hyperemesis gravidarum) in around one third of women and require hospitalization in the first trimester for 0.3 to 3.6% of these women in France. Given the diversity of practical care, a working group from the National College of French Gynecologists and Obstetricians (CNGOF) has established a consensus on the definition and management of these symptoms.

Definition and Severity

Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are defined as those emerging in the first trimester of pregnancy and for which there is no other etiology.

The severity of these symptoms should be assessed through weight loss from the beginning of the pregnancy, clinical signs of dehydration (thirst, skin turgor, hypotension, oliguria, etc), and modified PUQE (Pregnancy-Unique Quantification of Emesis and Nausea) score. This is a three-question score rated from 0 to 15, available in the full text of the expert consensus.

Severe nausea and vomiting are not considered complicated when weight loss is < 5%, with no clinical signs of dehydration, and combined with a PUQE score of ≤ 6. In contrast, hyperemesis gravidarum is distinguished from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy by weight loss of ≥ 5 % or signs of dehydration or a PUQE score of ≥ 7.

Treating Hyperemesis Gravidarum

A laboratory workup should be ordered, along with an assay of blood potassium, blood sodium ions, and creatinine levels, as well as a complete dipstick urinalysis.

If symptoms persist or worsen despite well-managed treatment, an additional assessment is recommended, including an abdominal ultrasound and laboratory workup (white blood cell count, transaminases, lipase, CRP, TSH, T4).

Hospitalization is proposed when at least one of the following criteria is met: weight loss ≥ 10%, one or more clinical signs of dehydration, PUQE score of ≥ 13, hypokalemia < 3.0 mmol/L, hyponatremia < 120 mmol/L, elevated serum creatinine > 100 μmol/L, or resistance to treatment.

Which Treatment?

Prenatal vitamins and iron supplementation should be stopped, as the latter seems to make symptoms worse. This step should be taken without stopping folic acid supplementation.

Women are free to adapt their diets and lifestyles according to their symptoms, since no such changes have been reported to improve symptoms.

If the PUQE score is < 6, even in the absence of proof of their benefit, ginger or B6 vitamin can be used. The same applies to acupressure, acupuncture, and electrical stimulation, which should only be considered in women without complications. Aromatherapy is not to be used, due to the potential risks associated with essential oils, and as no efficacy has been demonstrated.

It is proposed that drugs or combinations of drugs associated with the least severe and least frequent side effects should always be chosen in the absence of superiority of one class over another.

To prevent Gayet Wernicke encephalopathy, vitamin B1 must be administered systematically for hyperemesis gravidarum needing parenteral rehydration. Psychological support should be offered to all patients with hyperemesis gravidarum, due to the negative impact of this pathology on mental well-being. Patients should be informed that there are patient associations involved in supporting these women and their families.

This article was translated from Univadis France.

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