Pica: When Pregnant Women Crave More Than Food

Christine Coppa

Flickr photo by El Tekolote
When I was pregnant in 2007, I remember walking into my friend Bee's condo and how she immediately handed me a tumbler of ice. Just ice. Everyone knew I craved ice while expecting. I chomped on cubes constantly. There was an ice machine at my office -- thank God -- and I was always making routine trips to the kitchen for a refill. (I also craved salad and fruit.)

What's up with my non-food craving?

The condition is known as Pica, which is Latin for the word "magpie" -- a bird that will eat anything! Pregnant women will apparently eat anything too. Studies show expecting women crave chalk, dirt, soap -- even cigarette butts (heavens!). A potent combo of biochemical, psychological, and cultural factors are pegged to this bizarre disorder.

As for my ice craving, that's easier to diagnose -- and swallow. Studies show women who have iron deficiency anemia crave ice until the deficiency is cured. Another piece to the puzzle -- Pica is considered a red flag linked to an iron deficiency. Peaches are packed with iron.

Confession time: Did you crave anything strange to eat during pregnancy?

Read More