In a poignant Westminster debate, Health Minister Maria Caulfield has pledged to take action to improve NHS care for women suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a rare pregnancy sickness which tragically claimed the lives of Accrington primary teacher Jessica Cronshaw and her newborn baby, Elsie.
Royal fans may be aware this is the same extreme morning sickness that saw Princess Kate hospitalised.
The debate, called by Hyndburn MP Sara Britcliffe, was attended by members of Jessica’s family, who shared their heartbreaking story.
Jessica, 26, died in December last year after battling HG, a condition that left her unable to eat, drink, or carry out daily tasks. Her five-day-old daughter, Elsie, also lost her life.
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Speaking about the devastating impact of HG, Ms Britcliffe said: “I became familiar with the condition because of tragedy. One of my constituents, Jessica Cronshaw, was 28 weeks pregnant with her baby Elsie when she passed away after suffering with HG and left unable to eat, drink or complete daily tasks. It is a truly horrific story.
“I quote the words of Jess’s family about her life: ‘Our Jessica was a strong and determined 26-year-old woman, whose bright blue eyes lit up any room. Jess found true love in her partner Eddie and both were overjoyed with the news they were expecting their first baby in May 2022.
“Unfortunately, Jess quickly learnt that her pregnancy was going to be far from smooth. Jess went from her outgoing self, exercising every day without fail, to being completely bedbound from six weeks pregnant. Jess could not stop vomiting and when vomiting eased continued to feel nauseous.
“Her battle with HG resulted in the most devastating outcome. We are left with a hole in our lives and hearts that can never be filled.”
She highlighted the lack of proper mental health support, nutritional advice, and face-to-face time with medical professionals, emphasising the urgent need for compulsory training on HG for midwives.
Ms Britcliffe stressed Jessica and Elsie’s story is unfortunately representative of the experiences of many women who suffer from HG, calling for a more comprehensive approach which incorporates training, support, and appropriate medication.
Responding to the concerns raised, Health Minister Maria Caulfield expressed her agreement and pledged to support Jessica’s legacy.
She acknowledged the need for further action to address the issue, stating: “I absolutely agree more needs to be done to address this issue. I am happy to support Jess’s legacy, so we change the experience for pregnant women who suffer with hyperemesis gravidarum and never again hear such a tragic story.”
Following the debate, Ms Britcliffe emphasised the need for increased support for women with HG and improved training for midwives and GPs in treating the condition. The aim is to ensure no more lives are lost due to a lack of awareness and understanding within the medical community.
She said: “It is clear we need much more support for women with HG, and much better training for midwives and GPs when they are treating a woman with HG.”
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