It used to be a major cause of death in women until the 1950s when they introduced IV fluids. ... there are a lot of misconceptions about it. A lot of women are treated really badly. They’re treated like they’re faking it or that they just don’t want their child. We have a lot of women who have lost pregnancy after pregnancy, or who had abortions because they just couldn’t tolerate it.
The sheer loathsomeness of nausea and vomiting does seem to serve a biological purpose. The benefit of vomiting after eating something poisonous or tainted is obvious: the toxin is expelled. And the dreadfulness of the accompanying nausea deters you from ever wanting to eat anything like it again... In a famous 1992 paper, however, the evolutionary biologist Margie Profet made a compelling case that pregnancy sickness is actually protective. She pointed out that natural foods that are safe for adults commonly turn out to be unsafe for embryos. All plants produce toxins, and in order to be able to eat them we have evolved elaborate detoxification systems. But these systems don’t eliminate harmful chemicals completely, and embryos can be sensitive to even tiny amounts.A weird sidenote: Margie Profet, a MacArthur Fellowship-winning biologist, also first proposed that allergic reactions were a defense against toxins (link to abstract) and that menstruation was a defense against pathogen-carrying sperm (link to abstract). She went missing for much of the '00s (previously). She has since reconnected with her family.
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