Pica is an eating disorder in which a person eats things not usually considered to be food items and without any nutritional value. These items might range from soap and ice, to sponges and chalk. The word ‘pica’ comes from the Latin word for ‘magpie’ as these birds are said to eat almost anything!
There are many causes of pica – one of the most common being pregnancy, and this is thought to be down to a deficiency of some kind, for example iron or zinc and is usually temporary.
In most cases, these cravings exist but are not acted on, but in severe cases eating inedible items can lead to health issues such as intestinal blockages, interference with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, dental issues, or even poisoning. As a result, it is advisable to consult with your GP or midwife about any strange cravings you might be having.
A medical professional will be able to recommend supplements for any nutrient deficiencies and may offer a blood test to work out exactly what these are, meaning you can go back to eating all of those pickles you have been craving instead!
Jen Dowding, Baby massage and baby yoga instructor, Basking Babies Laindon & Orsett