Severe hyperemesis gravidarum causes profound maternal morbidity. Termination of pregnancy is still offered before the use of medical therapy. This report describes management of a woman who had undergone two previous terminations for hyperemesis, and additionally presents the dosage profile of prednisolone used to successfully manage a consecutive series of 33 women with severe hyperemesis gravidarum. The treatment protocol is described. The group had a median weight loss in pregnancy of 5.5 kg (range 2.0-12.5 kg), had been admitted on a median of 3.0 (range 0-9) occasions and had spent 7.5 (range 0-25) days on i.v. fluids. Continuing vomiting prevented oral steroid therapy in 14 women and i.v. hydrocortisone (50 mg t.i.d.; two women required 100 mg t.i.d.) was used initially for 24-48 h. Nineteen women commenced prednisolone 10 mg t.i.d. and this achieved suppression of vomiting within 48 h in all but two women who required 15 mg t.i.d. Two distinct subtypes of hyperemesis gravidarum were identified. Remitting hyperemesis spontaneously ceases between 14 and 22 weeks gestation and accounts for approximately 80% of cases. In contrast, full-term hyperemesis persists until minutes after delivery. These separate sub-types have not previously been described. Steroid treatment of hyperemesis should be considered in women who fulfil the criteria of severe disease.
Keywords: hyperemesis; prednisolone; steroid therapy; termination of pregnancy; vomiting.