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Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, expecting baby

LONDON — It may be the most acclaimed case of morning sickness in British history.

St. James' Palace announced Monday that Prince William's wife, Kate, is pregnant. The Duchess of Cambridge — formerly known as Kate Middleton — has a severe form of morning sickness and is currently in a London hospital. William is at his wife's side.

A royal pregnancy is big news in Britain, and there is an unprecedented element to this one. A change in the act of succession last October means that the child will have an eventual claim to the throne, regardless of his or her sex. Previously, the line of succession fell to the first-born male; girls became queen only in the absence of a brother.

The palace would not say how far along the 30-year-old duchess is, only that she has not yet reached the 12-week mark. Palace officials said the duchess was hospitalized with hyperemesis gravidarum, a potentially dangerous type of morning sickness where vomiting is so severe no food or liquid can be kept down. They said she was expected to remain hospitalized for several days and would require a period of rest afterward.

"The best advice for anyone suffering from (severe morning sickness) is to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluid," Dr. Daghni Rajasingam, a spokeswoman for Britain's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in a statement. "The condition usually subsides by week 12 of the pregnancy, and with early diagnosis and treatment, there is no reason why we shouldn't expect a healthy pregnancy."

The condition is thought to affect about one in 200 pregnant women, according to Britain's Health Department.

The confirmation of Kate's pregnancy caps a jam-packed year of highs and lows for the young royals, who were married in a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey last year.

They have traveled the world extensively as part of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and weathered the embarrassment of a nude photos scandal, after a tabloid published topless images of the duchess.

Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said the news bookended a year that saw the royal family riding high in popular esteem after celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II's 60 years on the throne.

"We're riding on a royal high at the moment at the end of the Diamond Jubilee year," he said. "People enjoyed the royal romance last year and now there's this. It's just a good news story amid all the doom and gloom."

Information from the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press was used in this report.

What's making Kate sick?

While morning sickness in pregnant women is common, the problem the Duchess of Cambridge has been hospitalized with is not. In a statement Monday, palace officials said she was hospitalized with hyperemesis gravidarum, a potentially dangerous type of morning sickness where vomiting is so severe no food or liquid can be kept down. Dr. Daghni Rajasingam, a spokeswoman for Britain's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said women with severe symptoms — including dehydration, dizziness and persistent vomiting — needed to be hospitalized for treatment, including being given fluids intravenously. Severe morning sickness affects about 1 in 200 pregnant women, according to Britain's Department of Health. It is more common in young women, women who are pregnant for the first time and those expecting multiple babies. If the problem is recognized and treated early, doctors say, there are no long-term effects for either the mother or the child. Left untreated, the mother could be at risk of developing neurological problems — including seizures — or risk delivering the baby early.

Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, expecting baby 12/03/12 [Last modified: Monday, December 3, 2012 11:25pm]
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