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Pregnant, addicted to eating sponge. How can I get rid of this?

I am 35 weeks pregnant and I eat sponge throughout the day I don t know where it how this addiction has come about but it s getting out if control to the point where I can t go anywhere without taking one with me ! I eat around 2 whole sponges a day and I know it s harmful to my unborn baby but its that bad I wake in the middle if the night to eat the sponge ! What can I do please help dr
Asked On : Wed, 23 Jan 2013
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OBGYN 's  Response
Mar 2013
Thanks for your query.
Nearly everyone has heard of the strange food cravings and aversions pregnant women experience—including the proverbial ice cream and pickles. But many people are unfamiliar with pica, a disorder in which pregnant women feel the insatiable urge to eat much more extraordinary—and sometimes dangerous—nonfood items, such as clay, chalk, or even cigarette butts, or in your case - sponge.

The word pica is derived from the Latin for magpie—a bird known for its curious eating habits. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines pica as, "The persistent eating of non-nutritive substances for a period of at least one month, without any association with an aversion to food."

Pica in humans has many different subgroups. Each of these subgroups are defined by the substance ingested. Some of the most commonly described types of pica are eating earth, soil, or clay (geophagia); ice (pagophagia); and starch (amylophagia). However, dozens of other substances, including cigarette butts and ashes, hair, paint chips, and paper have also been reported.

Although pica occurs in women all over the world, in countries such as Australia, South Africa, and Jamaica women have been experiencing it in greater numbers than previously thought by health care providers. Unfortunately the prevalence of pica in the United States is relatively unknown because not only is the disorder frequently unrecognized, but often women won't report these strange cravings due to embarrassment and fear of ridicule.

Major theories include eating nonfood items to satisfy a psychological need (such as a response to stress or an oral fixation); cultural influence or traditions that have been passed on for religious, medicinal, or magical reasons; sensory relief to help with nausea, hunger, or to appease the appetite when food is scarce; nutritional needs when the body isn't taking in adequate nutrients, such as iron (which pica items are believed to contain); or for microbiological purposes (the belief that clay, for instance, may promote a favorable pH for good microflora in the body).

Iron deficiency is a major cause of pica. Please consult your obstetrician, and get relevant investigations done, and start taking iron supplements, as well as iron rich food in your diet.

Take care. Hope this clarifies things !
Answered: Thu, 14 Feb 2013
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