The impact of hyperemesis gravidarum on maternal mental health and maternal–fetal attachment

David McCormack, Geraldine Scott-Heyes, Christopher G. McCusker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background. In addition to physical health risks, it has been postulated that hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) – severe and persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy – can adversely affect maternal mental health and maternal–fetal attachment.

Methods. A prospective case-control design was used to compare psychological distress, social functioning and maternal–fetal attachment in 32 women with HG compared to 41 matched controls.

Results. Results suggested that while HG compromised some aspects of attachment early in pregnancy (7–16 weeks gestation), this negative effect was clinically small and had faded by follow-up (after 26 weeks gestation). Comparisons did, however, show more significant and persisting psychological distress for those who had HG.

Conclusions. Pregnant women with HG appear to be at elevated risk of mental health difficulties during pregnancy, even when the symptoms of HG resolve. The development of a targeted intervention specifically designed to treat mental health difficulties associated with HG is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2011


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