Is It Normal to Have Pica During Pregnancy?

Experiencing strange pregnancy cravings is common for many of you. Maybe you feel the urge to eat some chili peppers and ice creams or some bananas and ketchup. It is entirely a very common pregnancy symptom.

Is it normal to have non-food cravings during pregnancy?

Other than these types of cravings, if you feel an urge to eat non food items like clay, chalk, laundry starch, soap, toothpaste, charcoal, cigarette ash, sand or dirt, then you may have an eating disorder like pica. This causes a most serious health complication to you and your unborn baby.

Pregnancy Pica CravingPica comes from a Latin word magpie, a bird that has indiscriminate tastes. Most commonly pica is observed in children between the ages of 2-3 and 25-30% of all children experience this disorder.

Rarely, pica is observed in adults and some pregnant women due to some physical or mental illness.

Pica eating disorder in pregnant woman is due to the conditions such as:

  • Experiencing the first pregnancy
  • Pregnancy below the age of 20 years
  • Suffered from pica during childhood
  • Deficiency of iron, zinc or some other nutritional elements

Non food substances obstruct the absorption of nutritional foods causing a deficiency. Parasitic and toxic substances found in these foods are a great concern to you and your baby. Also, it leads to kidney and liver damage, bowel obstruction, parasitic infection, mercury, lead or heavy metal deposits, constipation, dental injury, gum deterioration, and bowel inflammation.

Your baby won’t receive proper nutrition and results in low birth weight, stillbirth and preterm labor.

How to treat pica during pregnancy?

  • Immediately talk to your doctor if you feel cravings for non food items.
  • Ask the doctor to check the iron levels and ensure that you are taking essential vitamins.
  • Find other alternatives to your strange cravings. Chew sugarless gums or have something else to subside the cravings. Stress is also a cause for cravings, so try for relaxation and yoga techniques.
  • Get counseling if you are unable to control the cravings. Some psychological issues and depression are all the causes of pica.
  • Consult a nutrition therapist to ask about the foods that can fulfill your cravings.
  • Ask your doctor for medications that can control the cravings, stress and depression.
  • Take the help of behavior therapy and psychological counseling.


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