What is Pica? A Pregnancy-Related Eating Disorder

Photo Credit: Dora Pete

 

Pregnancy Pica

What pregnant woman doesn’t crave ice cream or pickles?

What pregnant woman doesn’t crave ice cream or pickles? Weird food cravings are a normal part of pregnancy, and they should be expected. However, food cravings can become a problem when you begin to crave non-food items, like clay, chalk, dirt, or even laundry starch. This is a sign of pica – an eating disorder that can occur during pregnancy.

Pregnant women with pica may have an irresistible urge to consume non-food items, like clay, dirt, hairballs, sand, ice, paint chips, cigarette butts, mothballs, toothpaste, coffee grounds, and even animal feces.

What Causes Pica?

Researchers don’t know exactly what triggers pica in pregnant women. Sometimes, pica is caused by a nutritional deficiency, such as an iron-deficiency anemia or a zinc deficiency. In other cases, pica can occur without any rhyme or reason. It usually disappears after your baby is born.

Can Pica Harm the Baby?

If you have pica and you indulge your cravings, there is always the risk of harm to your unborn child. Non-food substances can sometimes contain toxic ingredients, or even parasites that can harm your health and your developing child’s well being.

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