UPDATE : Thursday, June 4, 2020
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‘Morning sickness may cause premature birth’
  • By Shim Hyun-tai
  • Published 2020.03.31 17:56
  • Updated 2020.03.31 17:56
  • comments 0

A research team at the Korea University Anam Hospital (KUAH) has recently discovered that morning sickness is 2.88 times more likely to cause premature birth than gum disease.

The KUAH researchers used a random forest method to analyze 731 mothers who had been treated at the KUAH, and analyzed the results using artificial intelligence.

From left, Korea University Anam Hospital Professors Ahn Ki-hoon, Song In-seok, Lee Kwang-sik, and Kim Eun-seon.

The random forest model consists of a large number of individual decision trees that operate as an ensemble. Each tree in the random forest spits out a class prediction, and the class with the most votes becomes the model’s prediction.

The result showed that body mass index was the most significant factor in causing preterm birth, followed by the age of pregnant women, maternal birth history, systolic blood pressure, multiple pregnancies and educational level. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), including morning sickness, ranked at the 13th place and periodontitis, at 22nd.

GERD is a common disorder for which about 4.5 million Koreans receive treatment. The disorder can appear as a pregnancy sickness, which affects eight out of 10 mothers. People without GERD can gain it due to frequent reflux of stomach acid and weakness of the lower esophageal sphincter when they develop pregnancy sickness. The pregnancy sickness can worsen GERD of those who already had it.

Participating in the joint research were KUAH Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Professor Ahn Ki-hoon, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Department Professor Song In-seok, Gastroenterology Department Professor Kim Eun-seon, and AI Center Professor Lee Kwang-sik.

“People may misunderstand that GERD is not dangerous because it is a common symptom, but mothers should try to eliminate risk factors as much as possible for a safe birth,” Professor Ahn said.

He also advised mothers to respond actively through consultation with doctors because morning sickness, the most common symptoms during pregnancy, may delay and worsen the diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease, which can induce preterm birth.

The study, entitled the “Determinants of Spontaneous Preterm Labor and Birth Including Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Periodontitis,” was published in the latest journal of the Journal of Korean Medical Science.


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