Pica Eating Disorder During Pregnancy

pregnant woman belly

During pregnancy, a lot of women experience severe changes in their hormones that affect their bodies. These hormones will affect their mood and can also affect their food cravings.

Most women will develop weird food cravings that they wouldn’t normally like. Mixing pickles with deserts is a great example. But when pregnant women start to crave non-food items, then it might be a red flag that there is something else going on in their bodies.

What is Pica Eating Disorder?

Pica eating disorder is a condition where patients compulsively eat non-food items that have no nutritional value. The name is derived from the Latin name of a bird that would eat almost anything.

A lot of women experience a significant change in their appetite during pregnancy. They might start to hate certain types of food that they have long liked or they might develop a craving for certain food items that they never liked before. Pica eating happens during pregnancy and might automatically stop after giving birth. When women develop a Pica eating disorder, they start to eat weird non-food items like clay, chalk, dirt, burnt matches, soap, plaster, and charcoal.

What Causes Pica?

There isn’t one single cause for Pica but most doctors believe that it is a combination of several factors. Most doctors believe that it could be attributed to the changes in hormones that are associated with pregnancy. Pica eating can also be associated with vitamins and iron deficiency. This is why your doctor might run several blood tests to make sure that you have normal and healthy levels of iron, zinc and other vitamins or minerals.

Pica eating is not very common in pregnant women. As a matter of fact, it is more common in kids who would try several non-food items out of curiosity.

Is Pica Dangerous?

This depends on what you eat. Some non-food items will contain dangerous and toxic ingredients that might cause a lot of problems. Most people who engage in Pica eating might suffer from constipation or cramping. But some people suffer from intestinal obstruction when they eat things that can’t be absorbed by the body.

Non-food items that contain lead or other harmful materials can lead to a lot of serious health problems and present a real danger that could jeopardize your pregnancy and even your life. Consuming sharp objects can put you at a risk of internal bleeding. In the best scenario, when you are not consuming toxic or dangerous materials, Pica eating will show that you are suffering from a certain vitamin or mineral deficiency. This should be properly treated because it can affect the development of the fetus.

How to Treat Pica during Pregnancy?

Most of the time, your doctor will prescribe you some vitamins and minerals to make sure that you are getting all the nutrients you need. Supplements will not help stop your Pica eating disorder but they will ensure that your baby and your body are getting the essential nutrients they need.

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