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Pregnancy Sickness

August 3, 2006

Mothers-to-be take heart: Morning sickness may have a good reason for existing.


The food-morning sickness connection. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When morning sickness strikes, pregnant women often ask, Why me? Well, scientists at the University of Liverpool in England are working on an answer. By comparing 56 studies from 21 countries, they found that pregnancy sickness is more common in places with diets high in sugars, stimulants, vegetables, meat, milk, and eggs. Evolutionary psychologist Gillian Pepper says this may be the body’s way of protecting the fetus from harm.

GILLIAN PEPPER (University of Liverpool):
These were the foods that when man was evolving, were more likely to contain pathogens, because if you don’t have refrigeration, meat, milk, eggs could very quickly could become infected.

Women fared better in places with diets high in cereals, but she says it’s too early to say whether a special diet would reduce sickness or even be healthy.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.