Dr. Mutiso told me that while a majority of women experience some sort of craving during their pregnancy where some crave specific fruits, foods, chocolates, icecream or other such snacks, one in every 10 pregnant women experiences intense cravings for items that are of no nutritional value, and this includes odowa.
“Some pregnant develop an irresistible urge to eat clay, ashes, burnt matchsticks, charcoal, paper, cigarette ashes, disinfectants, plaster, paint chips, chalk, baking soda, toothpaste, soap and laundry starch among others,” he said.
The term for this non-food items is called pica, which is characterized by persistent and compulsive cravings to eat non-food items. Most people associate pica in pregnancy to certain nutritional deficiencies in the body –more specifically iron and calcium. Dr. Mutiso sheds more light on this.
“Pica does not necessarily mean a pregnant woman has an iron or calcium deficiency. Actually, many pregnant women have normal mineral levels. However, eating non-food substances may interfere with the absorption of healthy nutrients which could eventually lead to mineral deficiencies such as iron and calcium. Eating non-nutritious substances at the expense of nutritious food items could lead to problems such as iron-deficiency anaemia.”
The negative side effects of pica on pregnant women are not limited to mineral deficiencies.
“Some of the substances could be laced with toxins or harmful parasitic ingredients. Items such as soil or clay could have been bred in unsanitary conditions or collected from spots where there was urine, faeces or other unhygienic matter. Some substances could cause one to be infested with intestinal worms.”
But it gets worse.
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