Morning Sickness In Pregnant Women Functions For Toxic Avoidance

2134 words - 9 pages

Morning sickness is a term to describe the ill feeling experienced by pregnant women who are in their first trimester of pregnancy. The ill feeling is better defined as food aversions, nausea and vomiting. It is termed ‘morning sickness’ because many women experience it upon rising (Profet, 1995); but in reality, morning sickness could happen at any time of the day. So the term morning sickness may be a misnomer. There are many other terms used including nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) rather than morning sickness (Flaxman & Sherman, 2000). The term NVP will be used throughout this essay. Generally, everyone has a toxin tolerance threshold to detect level of toxicity in their blood; and if this threshold is exceeded, will induce nausea and vomiting. Similarly, NVP is when the usual threshold of tolerance to toxin is lowered; thus increasing the sensitivity in detecting toxin levels in the maternal blood to protect the embryo (Profet, 1995). There have been much speculations on the main causes of NVP and to how well it benefits both the mother and the embryo. Many studies claim that NVP functions for toxic avoidance although the depth of this claim is yet to be proven. In this essay, I am reviewing studies on NVP; and discussing if NVP is an evolutionary act to protect the embryo.

The symptoms of NVP peak during embryonic organogenesis (weeks 6-18) because this is when the embryo is most susceptible to chemical disruption (Flaxman & Sherman, 2000). Organogenesis is the period of organ formation from the tissue layers ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. Physically expelling out intolerable foods and feeling nausea are the obvious signs of NVP. Commonly known as a short-term sickness designed for a long-term benefit, NVP begins within 2 to 4 weeks after conception; peaks at the 6th to 8th week before falling off and later disappears after the 17th week (Tierson, Olsen and Hook, 1986). However, some of the sensitive organ developmental period of the embryo may extend through the 14th week after conception (Moore, Persaud and Torchia, 1993), making NVP to end later than expected. In studies regarding NVP, Tierson et al. (1986) reported that 89.4% of 414 pregnant women showed symptoms of NVP which includes 55% of them experienced vomiting; while Klebanoff et al. (1985) reported that 56% of 9098 pregnant women in their studies experienced vomiting. This shows that a large number of pregnant women experience NVP. But, Profet (1995) partially disagreed with their results, claiming that the participants of the studies were asked to recall the symptoms of NVP they had instead of conducting the studies with pregnant women. Studies also claimed that pregnant women with NVP experience less miscarriage than those who did not experience NVP (Profet, 1995) (Flaxman & Sherman, 2000). This is because pregnant women without NVP were not given signs of toxicity in particular food that they consumed; and so continue consuming foods that may be dangerous to their...

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