Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.

Morning sickness, also called nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP), is a symptom of pregnancy that involves nausea or vomiting. CAP understands that typically, the symptoms occur between the 4th and 16th week of pregnancy and can happen at any time of day or night.

Is it a medicine?

Claims to treat or prevent morning sickness or the symptoms of morning sickness are likely to be considered medicinal. Medicines must be licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before they can be marketed.  Marketers wanting to advertise products for the treatment of this condition, or the range of symptoms, should therefore consult the MHRA prior to marketing to ensure they are not making medicinal claims for unlicensed products.

It is a food?

Section 15 of the CAP Code sets out the rules which specifically relate to marketing communications concerning food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims. It reflects the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods (the ‘Regulation’).

Claims that state or imply that a food prevents, treats or cures human disease are not acceptable in marketing communications for food products (Rule 15.6.2).

Because the MHRA are likely to consider claims to treat morning sickness as medicinal, claims that a food can treat or reduce the symptoms of morning sickness are likely to be considered a prohibited claim to treat human disease.

See CAP Advice on Reduction of disease risk clams.

Is it a therapy?

The ASA and CAP have not yet seen convincing evidence that therapies (including Chiropractic and Osteopathy) can be used to treat the symptoms of morning sickness.  Marketers are therefore reminded that they would need to hold robust clinical evidence to support such claims.

See CAP Guidance on Substantiation for health, beauty and slimming claims.

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