Thursday, 22 February 2018
Pica and Olfactory Craving
Written by Nancy   
Thursday, 23 February 2012 14:25


Pica and Olfactory Craving of Pregnancy

Many studies since 1995 of pica during pregnancy are of women in other countries. The numbers of pregnant women in the USA who practice pica and olfactory craving is undetermined. It is also not known what percentage of prenatal care providers inquire of women as to their pica and olfactory craving experiences. The article that named olfactory craving of pregnancy (Pica and Olfactory Craving of Pregnancy: How Deep Are the Secrets? Birth 22:3 Sept 1995 by NR Cooksey, St. Louis MO Lactation Consultant) provides descriptions of mother's feelings and experiences with both pica and olfactory craving.  A 2004 article suggests that abnormal smell and/or taste perception is experienced by a large majority of pregnant women. The presence of rhabdomyolysis and cardiomyopathy in one woman with a long history of ingestion of large quantities of baking soda is reported in: If you are experiencing either pica or olfactory craving, you may contact 9 PLUS 3 for further information. Explaining one's pica and/or olfactory craving practices to one's physician along with requesting a referral to local physicians who might be conducting research into these practices is suggested.

Among the substances that mothers have been known to crave to ingest are: Baking powder, baking soda, chalk, cigarette ashes, powdered cleanser, cornstarch, cough drops, powdered detergent, dirt (from flower pots, ground, ground near city curbs, or shipped from out of town), flour, freezer frost, ice (crushed, cubed, chopped), milk (dry, powdered), powder (baby and adult), snow, toothpaste.

Substances craved to be chewed and removed from mouth include: Aspirin tablets, concrete chips, foam of shoulder pads, gum, brown paper bags, writing and notebook paper, tops of self-closing plastic bags, plastic of ink pens, sponge hair rollers, Styrofoam packaging and cups, tissues, toilet paper (scented, non-scented, white, colored), toothpicks, Halloween costume wax, and melted candle wax.

Substances craved to be smelled include: Air freshener (scented, aerosol), air (freezer and air conditioner), rubbing alcohol, lemon scented ammonia, liquid bleach, lemon-scented liquid bleach, bricks and concrete from condemned buildings, aerosol carpet deodorizer, chalk, cigarettes, cleaning solution (Pine Oil), powdered cleanser, concrete chips, powdered detergent, wet dirt, automobile exhaust, gasoline, incense, nail polish remover, marking pens, baby and adult powder, aerosol room disinfectant, scented toilet paper. Some women report that they spend much of the day finding opportunities to inhale gasoline from containers or at gas station pumps with their nose right next to the nozzle.

Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Dec;130(6):1377-1379. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000002365. Epler KE1, Pierce A, Rappaport VJ. A 31-year-old multiparous woman at 37 0/7 weeks of gestation presented with esophagitis and gastritis secondary to laundry detergent consumption. She had borderline anemia (hemoglobin of 11 g/dL and hematocrit of 37%, mean corpuscular volume 80%) but was severely iron-deficient (serum ferritin 7 micrograms/dL). Parenteral iron infusion was associated with dramatic resolution of her cravings within 36 hours of treatment.

2015 article on pica in Mexican-born women:

When all medical professionals are prepared to understand the range of craved substances, they are better able to question women in a non-judgmental fashion. Women with cravings have reported that they understand they might be causing risk to the fetus, but that they often cannot stop the practice. (NRC)      


Last Updated on Sunday, 28 January 2018 12:30