Mud eating or craving for things like chalk, paint, ashes, dirt, clay, cement, etc have been a common complaints in children up to age of 5 years. It is known as “pica”. Some parents think that mud eating is normal for infants as Lord Krishna (Hindu Mythology) had also eaten it! But keeping mythology aside, if it becomes a habit for the child and he starts craving for it, then it may become a cause of concern for following reasons:
1. Nutritional deficiency: Your child may be suffering from anemia and other nutritional deficiency as habit of eating non-food items may interfere with her healthy food eating habits.
2. Poisoning: May cause poisoning (eg. lead poisoning due to paint) and learning disabilities.
3. Bowel injury: Hard or sharp objects or pieces may cause bowel injury.
4. Infection: And of course, infections and worm infestations due to bacteria and parasites in dirt.
Therefore, craving of children for non eatable items like mud,chalk,cement or ice known as “PICA” in medicine should be taken seriously and child should be offered iron tonics and de-worming should be done along with other symptomatic treatment.
So, if your baby is eating dirt, mud, and other non-food items, it is time for you to visit the doctor. I am sure even Lord Krishna must have left eating dirt after he developed his legendary craving for butter!