Health alert: Strange pregnancy cravings not uncommon - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Health alert: Strange pregnancy cravings not uncommon

The urge to eat dirt is one of many unusual pregnancy cravings (Source: WOIO) The urge to eat dirt is one of many unusual pregnancy cravings (Source: WOIO)
(WOIO) -

Strange things are known to happen when women get pregnant. With cravings topping the list, some women are known to go to the extreme.

Chrissy Kurtz, of the Columbus area, was one of them during her last pregnancy. She was overcome by the urge to eat dirt.

"There were a couple times that I actually did, just because it was overwhelming, you know? The craving. That gritty taste. So, yeah, it was crazy," said Kurtz. 

But it turns out, it's not as odd as you might think. It's a condition called Pica, which was first described in 500 A.D. Though the cravings may be unusual, the condition isn't.

"Some women feel ashamed to talk to you about it, and so we don't really know. But people say anywhere between 8 and 80 percent of pregnancies can be associated with this condition," explained Dr. Melissa Goist, OB/GYN with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

She says cases include women craving everything from dirt to ashes, rubber bands, paper, even powdered laundry detergent. Most of the time, she adds, it's simply caused by low levels of zinc or iron and is easily treated. 

"We can draw some labs, and then most women, I will put on an iron supplement. And a lot of them actually tend to start to feel better or have less of those kind of cravings -- weird cravings," said Goist. 

Kurtz was able to satisfy her cravings for a gritty texture by eating antacids instead of dirt. She says as soon as her son was born, the cravings were gone.

She wants to remind all women to keep that in mind and be honest with their doctors throughout their pregnancy.

As far as this being dangerous, most of the time, doctors say eating small amounts of things, like paper or dirt, isn't harmful. Doctors are more concerned by things that contain chemicals or are hard to digest, like rubber bands.

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