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Has anyone else had a problem with their toddler eating dirt?

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I would love some advice on how to get my 2 1/2 year old to stop eating dirt. Any time she manages to get outside she just gobbles it. I left my daughters at my mom and dad's yesterday while I went to a doctors appointment. When I got back to get the girls my 2 year old had a big ol' mud ring around her mouth! Today she has a diaper rash going and her poop is very gritty (to the point I have to rinse her down in the tub to make sure I get all the little granuals out.

My mom says it's because she has an iron deficiency. I haven't talked to her doctor about it, yet. Do you have any advice? Is this just a phase?

by on Dec. 13, 2012 at 4:55 PM
Replies (41-50):
by on Dec. 15, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Pica check into this, it's lack of iron. Ask you doctor.

by on Dec. 15, 2012 at 11:40 AM

 sounds like she is vitamin deficient and has PICA

by on Dec. 15, 2012 at 11:45 AM

My daughter did that and she had an iron deficiency.

by on Dec. 15, 2012 at 12:01 PM

My dad was a dirt eater as a kid. But he loved the dirt off of tires. :P

He got worms. So yeah..ask her dr. But don't freak. It's super common. Some times it's just a compulsion to eat inedible things. Sometimes it's not really even an iron deficiency...

The compulsion to eat what’s inedible is known in the medical world as pica (pronounced “PIE-ka”). This is the Latin word for magpie, a bird with a reputation for eating practically anything. Human magpies, according to the medical literature, have been known to eat paper, and a lot more besides: dirt, ashes, starch, matches, cardboard, hair, laundry detergent, chalk and soap, among other things.

This little girl is not alone. Many people, for reasons that are not entirely clear to scientists, eat these nonnutritive substances.

A recent study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that hospitalizations for pica in a 10-year span jumped 93 percent, from 964 in 1999-2000 to 1,862 in 2008-2009.

It is difficult to say how common pica is, since most people don’t report it. Nearly all medical journal articles about pica call the condition “underreported” and “unrecognized.” Perhaps it is because patients fear the quizzical look and follow-up question: “You’re eating what?”

According to some studies, more than 50 percent of kids age 18 to 36 months seek and ingest non-food items. The practice is reported to decrease as a kid ages, but one study suggested that about 10 percent of children older than 12 may engage in pica.

And as common as it may be in kids, it is also an ancient practice: Reports and academic studies from antiquity describe “geophagia,” essentially, eating dirt. Dirt is, in fact, the favorite among pica eaters, especially in the United States, where the habit seems concentrated among small children and women who are native to the South, African American or pregnant.

Scientists and anthropologists studying pica have come up with several hypotheses about the cause of these cravings. They include stress, learned behavior, mental health issues and nutritional deficiencies (although the evidence for the last of these is not very strong). Some studies have pointed to an association between pica and deficiencies in iron, calcium, zinc and other nutrients such as thiamine, niacin and vitamins C and D. One explanation, offered in a recent article in the Quarterly Review of Biology, suggests that eating dirt may “protect the stomach against toxins, parasites, and pathogens.”

In 2000, a workshop on pica organized by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry decided that the answer is no. One of the most compelling arguments was that dirt eating is far too common to be considered abnormal behavior.

Link here

by on Dec. 15, 2012 at 12:26 PM

My son eats flowers and he is four now. He started eating tem at like 18 months. It doesn't bother me much, but it doesn't hurt him. I guess just talk to the doctor since it is having side efffects. It does sometimes have to do with an iron deffeciency, but maybe some people just like dirt.

by on Dec. 15, 2012 at 1:29 PM

My 2 year old puts dirt in his mouth and sometimes even swallows it but it also drink puddles licks trees and keep putting my Christmas tree ornaments in his mouth. He mostly want to feel them in his mouth. If she's past that then, tt could be a phase or she thinks it's funny? But there might be an underlying cause. If it's iron you might be able to tell with the inside of her lower eyelid being pale. Best bet is a doctor. 

by on Dec. 15, 2012 at 1:43 PM

she is missing somthing in her diet.most likely iron like you mom said

by Ruby Member on Dec. 15, 2012 at 2:11 PM

 I remember it was one of the questions they asked me at Wic. But since I answered no I didn't pay attention to the reason why. But it was from some sort of a deficiency.

by on Dec. 15, 2012 at 2:16 PM
It could be a phase or a sign of a deficiency
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by on Dec. 15, 2012 at 3:30 PM

My mom said she used to eat it by the spoonfuls when she was around 6 years old. No one ever knew though, she would take a plastic spoon and go under the house and eat it. She did it about a year...she turned out okay I guess? lol I would take him to the doctor though and see what's up.

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