Pica During Pregnancy – Causes and Types

PICA during pregnancy
Image source - hospitalkhoj.com

Pica During Pregnancy – Causes, and Types


Pica is the practice of craving substances with little or no nutritional value. Most pregnancy and pica related cravings involve non-food substances such as dirt or chalk. The word pica is Latin for magpie which is a bird notorious for eating almost anything. It is true that the majority of women will experience cravings during pregnancy. This doesn’t generally fall under pregnancy symptoms as it is not common in every woman.


Fun fact:

Pica cravings are also most commonly seen in children and occur in approximately 25-30% of all children.


What Causes Pica During Pregnancy?

It is still had to explain why some women develop pica cravings during pregnancy is not known for certain. There is currently no identified cause; however, according to the Journal of American Dietetic Association, there may be a connection to an iron deficiency. Some speculate that pica cravings are the body’s attempt to obtain vitamins or minerals that are missing through normal food consumption.

Also, sometimes pica cravings may be related to an underlying physical or mental illness.


Can Pica Affect Your Pregnancy?

Pica during pregnancy
Image source – Seyah’s Secret

Depending on what you actually ingest, complications from pica can range from constipation and cramping to intestinal obstruction, infection, and poisoning, since certain non-food items may contain toxic or parasitic ingredients that can potentially harm both you and baby. Eating non-food substances may interfere with the nutrient absorption of healthy food substances and actually cause a deficiency.  Plus, if you do have a vitamin deficiency, it could mean baby’s not getting something he needs.


Common Pregnancy and Pica Cravings

The most common substances craved during pregnancy are dirt, clay, and laundry starch.

Other pica cravings include:

  • burnt matches
  • stones
  • charcoal
  • mothballs
  • ice
  • cornstarch
  • toothpaste
  • soap
  • sand
  • plaster
  • coffee grounds
  • baking soda
  • cigarette ashes


How To Treat Pica?

If you’re experiencing unusual cravings for nonfoods, contact your doctor. He or she may test you for nutrition deficiency and give you vitamin supplements, and work with you to come up with a treatment plan. There’s no specific way to prevent pica, but getting the right amount of nutrients may help.

You don’t need to panic as it happens and is not abnormal. The most important thing is to inform your health care provider to make sure you have a complete understanding of the specific risks associated with your cravings.

Here are Some Suggestions To Help You Deal With Pica Cravings:
  • You must inform your health care provider and review your prenatal health records
  • Monitor your iron status along with other vitamin and mineral intake.
  • Try to plan a healthy meal with the help of your doctor.
  • Consider potential substitutes for the cravings such as chewing sugarless gum
  • Inform a friend of your craving who can help you avoid non-food items


Also Read: Top 10 Symptoms Of Early Pregnancy
PMS Vs. Pregnancy symptoms