Eating Ice While Pregnant – Why You May Be Craving Ice

Eating Ice While Pregnant - Why You May Be Craving Ice

Do you enjoy eating ice while pregnant but you’re not sure why — other than ‘you just feel like it’?

This article just might help you to demystify this quirky ice crunching habit you’ve formed, so you can finally understand what’s going on inside your body!

The intense urge to eat ice cubes during pregnancy is considered to be a form of pica.

Pica is characterised by eating non-food items such as clay, chalk, soil, paint chips and plaster. The eating habit is thought to be compulsive, and the consumed items hold little in the way of nutritional value.

Pica can affect anyone, though it is most common in children and pregnant women.

Technically speaking, pagophagia is the name given to the eating of ice.

Why Do So Many Women Crave Eating Ice While Pregnant?

It is not yet known exactly what causes people to develop pica, and understanding of this condition is somewhat limited.

Some studies have found a link between pica and iron deficiency, indicating that deficiencies may have a role to play in the condition. Interestingly, pica sufferers with low iron levels were not craving or eating items that were naturally high in iron.

One recent study found that non-anemic study participants reported very low rates of pagophagia (4%) whereas anemic participants reported much higher rates (56%). It was also found that crunching on ice gave anaemic study participants a mental boost. Those who were anaemic showed a dramatically improved response time on a neuropsychological test, whereas this wasn’t the case for non-anaemic participants.

How Common Is Pagophagia?

As many as one in five pregnant women find themselves regularly craving ice cubes, making it one of the more popular pregnancy cravings. It has been found that treating the anaemia can reduce the cravings. If you find yourself regularly craving ice, speak to your healthcare provider first, before taking iron supplements. However, while pregnant, it is important that you’re consuming enough iron, ideally from natural sources which are readily absorbed and less likely to result in constipation.

While pregnant, the recommended daily intake of iron is 27mg per day.

Sources of iron include:

  • Shellfish (e.g. oysters, clam and mussels)
  • Chicken, turkey, fish, lamb lean beef
  • Eggs
  • Cashews
  • Cooked legumes (e.g. lentils and chick peas)
  • Green vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach, silverbeet)

Iron deficiency anaemia can affect your mood and concentration, and can cause fatigue, headaches and lethargy — and who needs more of that when you’re already pregnant and tired!

In some instances, the ice craving is nothing to worry about and is no indication of a deficiency, but it’s always worth getting checked out.

Can Crunching On Ice Cubes Damage My Teeth?

Even if your ice cube habit is not caused by a vitamin deficiency, your dentist probably won’t be too keen on you eating too much ice, as it can put teeth at risk. Human teeth are designed for eating softer food, not chomping down on hard cubes of ice.

Chewing ice can wear down tooth enamel, leave teeth vulnerable to decay, and even increase sensitivity to hot and cold foods.

Therefore it’s important to remember that while ice is one of the least harmful cravings you can have, there are risks to your teeth and diet, especially if you don’t address a possible underlying cause of anaemia.

A simple blood test is all it takes to check your iron levels. Ask specifically to know the level of ferritin. For an anaemic adult, a ferritin level below 15 μg/L is considered to be iron deficient. Between 15–30 μg/L is highly suggestive.

 
Last Updated: November 17, 2015

CONTRIBUTOR

BellyBelly.com.au


12 comments

  1. Im pregnant I crave snow ice that comes out the fridge, how can l stop it , is my baby going to get affected by this habit please help l cant stop!

  2. I eat about a bag of ice in 3 days And in these 3 days I won’t eat nothing but ice can that harm my baby I’m 39 weeks.

    1. I’m 30 weeks and I think that eating the bag of ice won’t effect your baby. how ever if that is the only thing you are eating it might not be to healthy for your baby because it’s not getting any food or nutrients to help it grow. I would recommend eating a snack and also having a cup of ice to help limit some of that cravings.

  3. My mouth gets really dry and I get really cranky when I don’t have ice, Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night to eat ice in order for me to keep sleeping.. Is that a normal thing? Sometimes I try not too because it hurts my teeth but it’s like I have to have it.

    1. My iron levels are normal. Even I crave for ice cubes a lot. Just had a tray of ice and it’s 2.30 midnight in india. It’s my 2 nd pregnancy. I craved ice cubes in my both the pregnancy. I don’t think it will have any effect on baby as I already have an experience in this matter. But try to eat a lot of greens accept that causes gas. This is to make sure we have good iron levels.

  4. For the last 3 years I’ve been addicted to crushed ice in a blender pregnant or not there was a time I would go through 3 bags a day and my iron levels are perfect ! I’m not 38 weeks pregnant and doctors said the more water intake the better as long as I’m still eating food and healthy food at that which I am. Baby is fine but I get anxiety without my cup of ice it’s my blanky so does this mean I have pica?

  5. I am 21 weeks and in the mornings after breakfast I just got to have me a cup of ice matter of fact after every meal i eat a day I just got to have me a cup of ice are two …..is that healthy for my baby ? Am I craving two much ice?

  6. It was many years ago but I craved ice with all of my three pregnancies. I cannot described how good the ice tasted. That’s all I virtually ate. I had 3 healthy babies but I actually lost my own body weight. I looked dreadful. I will say this, once they were born the ice just tasted like ice.

  7. I’m craving ice….eat them like chips…..omg delicious…..iron low but taking supplements makes me constipated….

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