Pregnant women are often told to mind their bodies' natural cues. But what happens when your body tells you to eat sponges and sand for breakfast?
Kelly-Marie Pearce had those peculiar cravings during both of her pregnancies, and she told The Sun that she'd fashion the ingredients into a vernacularly redundant sand-sandwich.
Her hankering for the peculiar meal began with one innocuous glance into a parrot cage. “I kept getting this weird taste in my mouth. I was craving something, then I saw the sand in the cage and knew what it was," Pearce, who's from from Wolverhampton, England, told The Sun.
She quickly grew addicted to sponges dipped in sand. Eventually, she was noshing her way through an entire packet of sponges a day.
However, Pearce's cravings weren't simply a matter of taste buds gone awry. She had pica, a craving for non-food substances, often including cornstarch, baking powder and dirt. Though more common among young children than adults, pica can occur during pregnancy, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The NIH notes:
In some cases, a lack of certain nutrients, such as iron deficiency anemia and zinc deficiency, may trigger the unusual cravings. Pica may also occur in adults who crave a certain texture in their mouth.
In a 2011 interview with Public Radio International's "Living on Earth," Cornell professor Sera Young noted that most pica cravings are for "dry, powdery, absorptive" substances. Young, who also wrote a book on pica titled Craving Earth, postulated that pregnant women might crave these non-food substances to absorb "pathogens like viruses and bacteria and other harmful chemicals," thereby protecting their growing baby.
However, pica can be dangerous to pregnant women and their babies, causing a host of health risks such as obstruction of the bowel, tapeworms or premature birth, according to Psychology Today.
Luckily, both of Pearce's children were born healthy. Better still, her cravings went away after she gave birth, so she can take those seven packs of sponges off her weekly grocery list.