Pica in pregnancy

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    • #17115
      Archived Posts

      Hi, I’m just after some advice for a client I’m yet to see, so my details are a bit sketchy -apologies.

      She is 25, on her 5th pregnancy – currently 32 weeks, single mum, works in caring profession, and she has self-diagnosed pica.

      She’s had cravings, mainly for sand, in all her pregnancies, but this is particularly bad. She is eating sand and I think bits of paint from the walls, and is trying to limit herself to just 3 times a day!

      History of mum and grandma having pica.

      Only blood tests that I’m aware of are that she’s low in iron. I’ve no idea what her diet is like. She’s supplementing iron (from dr) but don’t know about any other supplements
      I know pica can be a result of iron and zinc deficiency, but can also be an eating disorder.

      Any help, advice or tips will be greatly appreciated.
      Obv with pregnancy I’m going to start with diet, and gut health for the iron, and just from her life I can tell she must be under stress, but just wondered if anyone has any specific knowledge of this condition, and tips,


      Posted by Laura

    • #17117
      Christine Bailey

      Dear Laura

      Many thanks for your question about your client experiencing pica. We have previously discussed the issue of pica which can also occur in other cases and yes may be linked to potential mineral deficiencies. http://tinyurl.com/gscg2zh

      The desire to eat non-food items, known as pica, can be linked to iron deficiency. Here are studies that show some interesting & specific food cravings are due to anaemia / lack of iron:

      Chandra P &Rosner F. Olives-Craving in Iron Deficiency Anaemia. Ann Intern Med, Jun 1973; 78: 973 – 974. http://tinyurl.com/6cgrgn7

      Marks, JW. Lettuce-Craving and Iron Deficiency. Ann Intern Med, Oct 1973; 79: 612. http://tinyurl.com/5tzlxzg

      Osman YM et al.Craving for ice and iron-deficiency anemia: a case series from Oman. PediatrHematolOncol, Mar 2005; 22(2): 127-31. http://tinyurl.com/62t87wn

      Louw VJ et al. Pica and food craving in adult patients with iron deficiency in Bloemfontein, South Africa. S Afr Med J, Nov 2007; 97(11): 1069-71. http://tinyurl.com/6gxrg46

      You mention the client is already taking iron but you may wish to complete tests including ferritin to ascertain levels. Spa Tone liquid is a good option if needed. In addition Lactoferrin may be worthwhile considering, to support iron levels. In addition consider L lysine which can enhance absorption of iron.

      Lactoferrin is one of the transferrin proteins that transfer iron to the cells and control the level of free iron in the blood and external secretions.

      Zinc can also be linked to changes in appetite so you may wish to run some mineral and vitamin screens to look for any potential underlying imbalances. Biolab can run these for you.

      Low plasma zinc and iron in pica. Indian J Pediatr. 2003 Feb;70(2):139-43. http://tinyurl.com/zb6sfla

      Pica and mineral status in the mentally retarded.Am J Clin Nutr May 1982 vol. 35 no. 5 958-967 http://tinyurl.com/h6gn4hq

      You may also wish to investigate whether there are any malabsorption issues or digestive issues – so do consider gut health and / or food allergies in addition.


      The following supplements are suggested for you to consider in light of your relevant expertise and intimate understanding of the needs of your client or patient. They may be used in isolation or as part of a multi supplement strategy, but at all times the consideration of their use should be tied into the specific needs of the individual you are responsible for.

      Culturelle Lactobacillus GG (ARG) – take 1 twice daily – http://tinyurl.com/38q7u7x

      Laktoferrin with Colostrum (ARG) – 2 at bedtime – http://tinyurl.com/neunk9p

      L-Lysine with Hcl (BRC) – take 1 with each meal

      I hope this helps answer your question


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