Strange Pregnancy Cravings when Cravings become Dangerous

Everyone knows that pregnancy can make you crave some pretty strange things, but did you know that some of these cravings can be warning signs of bigger problems? It’s totally normal for a pregnant woman to crave odd food combinations like pickles and ice cream for example, or jelly beans and watermelon. Those types of things shouldn’t have you concerned at all, weirded out a little maybe, but not alarmed. Here we’re going to go over a few of the cravings that you should talk to your doctor about should they suddenly become desirable.

Unusual pregnancy cravings:






Laundry Detergent





Cigarette Butts




Paint Chips

Exactly what is Pica?

Craving one or more of these things could be a sign of Pica, which is defined as the compulsive consumption of non-nutritive substances. Corn starch and clay are the most common cravings of women with Pica, however things like balloons, grass, coffee grounds, insects, baby powder, pencils and crayons are also fairly common cravings seen in Pica patients.

Types of Pica:

There are many different types of Pica or subgroups as they’re called, the following are the most commonly seen.

Geophagia (ingesting types of soil such as; clay, mud, or dirt)

Amylophagia (ingestion of starches like; laundry detergent, or corn starch)

Pagophagia (compulsive digestion of ice)

Dependent upon what is being ingested, there can be some very adverse side effects to the body. For example, geophagia can cause gastrointestinal complications like the introduction of parasites to the body, constipation, cramping and abdominal discomfort. Pagophagia can cause decreased nutrient absorption and amylophagia may cause malnutrition and excessive weight gain due to the high amount of empty calories found in starches.

What causes Pica?

No one really knows the exact cause of Pica, some believe that it’s a deficiency in the body such as Iron, while others think of it more of a psychologically based oral fixation. A few have even suggested that it’s a type of coping mechanism when food is scarce. Sadly, there is very little conclusive data on the disorder due to the lack of patients coming forward to report symptoms for fear of being judged or embarrassment.

Is Pica treatable?

It is vitally important that you talk to a doctor should you find yourself or someone you know craving any of the items discussed here. Help is available and is usually a combination of treatment plans and services. First a doctor will check for a vitamin or nutrient deficiency, a psychologist may be contacted to address any stresses or emotional needs, and there may even be a social worker brought in to help in any other fields needing attention. Pica is a serious condition and is very treatable. Try to keep in mind that many pregnant and postpartum women experience these cravings and no one is going to judge or ridicule. If you or someone you know is suffering from one or more of these cravings, please get help today.