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D.iet & H.ealth : C.hildren & W.omen Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00

Morning sickness seen as a protective relfex
By Sara Andrews
Jul 12, 2006, 18:00

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12 July, ( - Morning sickness during pregnancy is actually a protective reflex, which shields the baby from poisons in the unhealthy foods eaten by the mother, according to British researchers.

The nausea and vomiting may also protect the mother from digesting unhealthy foods, University of Liverpool researchers said.

Some foods that were likely to trigger off morning sickness were associated with high intake of sugar, alcohol, oils and meat. The food least likely to cause vomiting was cereal. Morning sickness is the bane of the first trimester of pregnancy and occurs in 80 percent of pregnant women.

Previously it was considered to be a side effect of pregnancy per se, but emerging evidence suggests, it might be nature's way of ensuing that the developing fetus is not harmed by unhealthy foods.

The current study, which appears in the Royal Society's Biological Journal, analyzed 56 previous studies in 21 countries The study, led by Gillian Pepper and Craig Roberts, theorizes that the pregnant human body might have developed an aversion to certain unhealthy foods and that this carried over to the present day.

The body might reject meat because it is more likely to cause disease. "While there may be no particular harm in eating, say, meat, now that we have refrigeration and best before dates, our bodies may be pre-programmed by evolution to avoid these particular foodstuffs in the first trimester," Dr Roberts said.

"It may be that the nausea women feel towards certain foodstuffs could be helpful, and that although it is inconvenient and miserable, their nausea could be nature's way of avoiding problems in pregnancy for both mother and fetus."

Previous research has also suggested that morning sickness may mean reduced risk of miscarriage.

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