It is often common for pregnant women to talk about what they are craving to eat during their pregnancy with everything from sweets to salty and sour foods such as pickles. However, some women begin to have strange cravings for things that one would normally never consider consuming. These cravings can include things such as dirt, clay, soil, cat litter, animal feces or ice just to name a few. These odd cravings are a sign of an eating disorder called pica.
Pica is not just attributed to pregnancy as there are some children who suffer from it as well as adults. While pica can cause complications for anyone it can be particularly bad for pregnant women. There are a couple of different theories on why women develop pica during pregnancy. The majority of the time pica develops as a result of the pregnant women having low iron levels or being deficient in important nutrients and vitamins. In some cases there are psychological problems where women under extreme emotional stress develop pica or those who are considered mentally or emotionally handicapped will develop it. Pica can also develop to pregnant women who are in abusive relationships or those who feel an extreme amount of fear. Another condition that may be attributed to pica developing is cultural differences. In some cultures women may eat odd things such as dirt as a way to cleanse themselves of some of the symptoms of pregnancy.
Complications that may arise from pica in pregnant women may vary. One common complication found is bowel obstruction. This may occur if the pregnant woman eats large amounts of dirt, clay or other strange objects such as hairballs.
Another common complication that may arise is lead poisoning. If a pregnant woman starts to eat paint or something similar she runs a great risk of getting lead poisoning which may prove to be fatal not only for herself but her unborn child as well. Complications of pica during pregnancy that will also have an effect on the unborn baby includes premature labor, low birth weight or even the baby being stillborn.
There are ways for pregnant women to overcome pica with the help of their health care provider. Doctors will generally first conduct tests to see if the pregnant woman is suffering from any deficiencies and if so they may have her take special nutritional supplements or other medications that will help get rid of the odd cravings.
If the condition is psychological the doctor will likely have the pregnant woman undergo therapy or counseling sessions with a psychologist to determine what is causing the patient to have developed pica.
If a pregnant woman suspects she may have developed pica she should contact her doctor as soon as possible to determine if she is at risk and how she overcome this condition.