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08-09-2010 | General practice | Article

No evidence for morning sickness therapy benefit


The Cochrane Library

There are no reliably safe and effective treatments for morning sickness, a review of available evidence concludes.

The Cochrane Review of 27 randomised controlled trials, including 4041 women who were up to 20 weeks pregnant, found only very limited evidence for all pharmaceutical and alternative therapies tested to date.

"A number of the studies we looked at appeared to show benefits, but in general the results were inconsistent and it was difficult to draw firm conclusions about any one treatment in particular," explained lead researcher Dr Anne Matthews, from Dublin City University, Ireland.

Six studies of acupressure and two of acupuncture found no differences in nausea and vomiting severity in women who received the treatments compared with control groups who underwent sham procedures. One study of acustimulation, involving a mild electric current on acupuncture points, did however show some improvement with this treatment over 3 weeks.

There was limited evidence of any nausea relief with ginger, vitamin B6, antihistamines, or antiemetics, including Debendox. Heartburn was reported by some women taking ginger and drowsiness in those taking antiemetics.

The reviewers emphasise that the studies were at high risk of bias and had measured nausea and vomiting separately.

Dr Matthews said: "Despite the wealth of different treatments available, it is not possible currently to identify with confidence any safe and effective interventions for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. The difficulties in interpreting the results of the studies highlight the need for further, more rigorous trials in this area."

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Caroline Price