women consume earth cultures

Drmarts drmarts at aol.com
Thu Jan 18 09:39:36 EST 1996

thoneyc394 at aol.com (THoneyc394) in message
4dkrb0$2st at newsbf02.news.aol.com wrote:
>>>Studying the cultural ties of women in some ethnic groups who crave
earth/earthen material in pregnancy. Have found some releationship to
clays in S. America and history of clay tablets from certain places in
Mexico - nutrients are equal to those minerals found in pregnancy
vitamins. Some practices originate in Africa and were brought to south by
displaced african american women in the S. USA. Looking for archeological
connections in physical anthropology to back up through human history.
Anyone familiar with this practice, please share.<<<

I think this is less a cultural practice than a "side effect" of
pregnancy. The medical term for it is "pica," which Dorland's Medical
Dictionary describes as: "compulsive eating of nonnutritive substances,
such as ice, dirt, gravel, flaking paint or plaster, clay, hair, or
laundry starch. Pica and unusual food cravings are common in pregnant
women. Pica also occurs in some patients with iron or zinc deficiencies." 

You may find cultural differences in _which_ substances are consumed
(won't find much ice-munching in Equatorial tribal groups, for instance),
but I think you'll find that pica is a physical/medical, not a cultural,
phenomenon. In the U.W., pica in pregnant women who are under a midwife's
or doctor's care will trigger a review of diet and vitamin intake to check
for a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

Sherry Marts
American Health Assistance Foundation

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