Researchers are now considering reducing the hormone levels in pregnant women and exposing women to GDF15 before pregnancy to prepare for increased levels later. Fejzo’s team intends to find out if metformin, an oral diabetic medication that raises GDF15 levels, may be used to help women with a history of HG.

They also hope to examine an additional class of medications that are already undergoing testing in clinical trials for cachexia, a metabolic disease that causes significant weight loss, and nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. The medications prevent GDF15 from attaching to its receptor in the brain.

“Hopefully,” Fejzo concluded, Fortune reported, “now that we understand the main cause of HG, we’re a step closer to developing effective treatments to stop other mothers from going through what I — and many other women — have experienced.”

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