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Craving for eating slate pencils during pregnancy. How safe is that for my baby?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1978
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Hi i'm 5weeks pregnant and i have craving for eating slate pencils.. how safe is that for my baby and my pregnancy?
this is my first pregnancy and i have no complication till now. i was over weight and i got married late and its a 1.5year of marriage and doctor suggested me to get the bariatric surgery done as i was planning for pregnancy.
Posted Sat, 9 Jun 2012 in Pregnancy
Answered by Dr. Pavan Kumar Gupta 2 hours later
Hello and thanks for the query.
Such type of cravings for non food items is called as pica.
Pica is the practice of craving substances with little or no nutritional value. Most pica cravings involve non-food substances such as dirt or chalk.
It is true that the majority of women will experience cravings during pregnancy; however, most of these cravings are for things like pickles and ice cream. Pica cravings are most commonly seen in children and occur in approximately 25-30% of all children; pica cravings in pregnant women are even less common.

The reason that 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. Sometimes pica cravings may be related to an underlying physical or mental illness.

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, and cigarette ashes.

Eating non-food substances is potentially harmful to both you and your baby. Eating non-food substances may interfere with the nutrient absorption of healthy food substances and actually cause a deficiency. Pica cravings are also a concern because non-food items may contain toxic or parasitic ingredients.

What can you do if you have pica cravings?
Don't panic; it happens and is not abnormal.
Consult your doctor
Monitor your iron status along with other vitamin and mineral intake
Consider potential substitutes for the cravings such as chewing sugarless gum
I hope to have answered your query however you can revert to me for any other query.
Thanks and best of luck.
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