WHILE it’s fairly common for pregnant women to crave odd combinations of their favourite foods, have you ever had the urge to drink detergent or chew chalk?
A pregnant mum recently took to Facebook to say she’s going through a bottle of Dettol every day due to a bizarre craving – and she’s not the only one.
According to The Daily Mail, the mum asked where she could get the cleaning product in bigger quantities as she’d become so obsessed with the smell while expecting.
“I no kidding get urges to drink it,” she added.
Fabulous previously spoke to Nazma Iqbal, a beautician, hairdresser and mum from Derby, who had to sneak off between clients so she could chew on paper towels in secret while pregnant.
She said: “I kept on chewing up paper towels until I finally went into labour.
I kept on chewing up paper towels until I finally went into labour.
“Even then, in between contractions, I munched on the hospital’s scratchy paper towels until I finally gave birth to my son Azaan.”
Another mum, Kadejah Clarke from Wolverhampton, revealed to Fabulous that her vice during pregnancy was talcum powder.
“Suddenly it was all I wanted,” she said.
“I bought a bottle of it and it was so refreshing as soon as the white stuff hit my tongue.
“I can’t explain why I loved it so much but from that moment on, I was hooked.”
Craving unusual food combinations like crisps and chocolate spread might raise a few eyebrows among friends, but wouldn’t be of concern to your doctor – it’s thought to have something to do with pregnant women’s altered smell and taste buds.
However, cravings for non-food objects during pregnancy require medical attention as they could be a sign of a condition called Pica.
Tom Quinn, Director of External Affairs at eating disorder charity Beat, explains: “Pica is a feeding disorder in which a person eats non-food substances that have no nutritional value, such as paper, soap, paint, chalk, or ice.
“Signs of Pica include craving or eating substances that aren’t supposed to be eaten, or physical illness as a result of eating harmful substances.”
Other Pica-related cravings pregnant women can experience include soil, clay, plaster, shampoo, stone, coins, bricks, cigarette ends, hair, clothing and toothpaste.
Dr Pat O’Brien, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and Vice President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says: “While some cravings in pregnancy can be due to hormonal changes in the body, it is possible that some may be a sign of a nutritional deficiency.
“If you experience any unusual cravings like this for non-food products, speak to a healthcare professional, as they may need to check you for any nutritional deficiency.”
Dr Ravi Jayaram, Consultant Paediatrician at the Countess of Chester Hospital, has treated children with Pica in the past.
“We generally look for iron, calcium and zinc deficiency if they’re there and we treat them,” he says.
“On some occasions, if you treat those underlying deficiencies, the Pica resolves, but not always.
While some cravings in pregnancy can be due to hormonal changes in the body, it is possible that some may be a sign of a nutritional deficiency
Dr Pat O’Brien
“It’s very poorly understood.”
It’s uncertain whether other factors may contribute towards the condition.
Tom says: “The reasons for developing pica are not yet clear, however several scientists have linked it to the nervous system and have understood it as a learned behaviour or coping mechanism.
“Pica may be likely to occur alongside certain conditions including pregnancy, autism, iron deficiency anaemia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.”
In most cases, Pica in pregnant women goes away on its own once the baby is born.
But anyone experiencing symptoms should seek medical attention so they can be referred for appropriate treatment as it puts mums-to-be at risk of a range of health problems including constipation, bowel obstruction or ulceration, metal toxicity, cracked teeth and infections.
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