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Most women would find it hard to believe that morning sickness — vomiting and nausea during pregnancy — is a good thing, but the evidence is growing that it helps protect the mother and her baby.

In a paper in the Quarterly Review of Biology, Samuel Flaxman and Paul Sherman of the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University have reviewed a wealth of evidence from medical, psychological and anthropological studies. They conclude that morning sickness is adaptive. That is, it has a selective function: to prevent women from ingesting foods which might be dangerous to themselves or their embryos.

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