If you think children accidentally swallowing things they shouldn’t is bad, think again. This toddler from Bournemouth, Dorset has the compulsion to eat anything, from clay and sand to cooking oil and plastic.
She has a condition called Pica, a rare impulsive disorder meaning she has cravings to eat non-food substances.
Thus far, three-year-old Maddie has eaten washing powder, cooking oil, clumps of carpet, stones, plaster, wood, plastic, sand, duct tape, bugs, paint, pens, Play-Doh, toilet roll, among other things.
“If she could, she would eat everything. I’m always worried about what she’ll try to eat next. Everything goes to her mouth,” said her mom Catherine Mullins.
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“She’s certainly unique. Most professionals who meet her say they’ve never met a child quite like Maddie.”
Maddie’s case requires constant vigilance from her guardians, and for this reason Catherine and Maddie’s dad Sonny Moore, have quit their jobs to make sure nothing bad happens to her daughter.
Play-Doh is one of Maddie’s favorites; Photo credit: BNPS.co.uk
“Sometimes, I have to put my fingers in her mouth and hook the food out to stop her choking. You literally can’t take your eyes off her for a minute so our house never shuts down.”
Catherine first became aware of her daughter’s condition when Maddie turned one and started to crawl.
“It started with her picking up and eating small items of fluff and paper, any bits she could find from the floor,” Catherine told reporters. “Then her cravings became more and more intense.”
“We can’t have anything on the walls like displays or paintings because she’ll eat them. Lilly can’t do any drawing or crafts because Maddie will eat the pencils and paints. I literally have to hide anything dangerous.”
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This prompted tests and assessments and when she turned two she was diagnosed with Pica.
On top of this, Maddie also suffers from from autism, developmental delay and sensory process disorder, which causes her to bounce, spin and climb at any opportunity.
At night she has to be confined into a special bed to stop her from eating anything she shouldn’t when she sleeps.
“It’s hard because due to her condition she can’t go outside much either. She needs to be safe because of her complex needs so to have somewhere where she could have the space to play and Lilly could rest too, would be a dream come true.”
According to reports, Pica is an eating disorder most common in people with learning disabilities and during pregnancy.
It can be potentially life-threatening, with risks ranging from vomiting, constipation and infections to blockages in the gut and intestines, choking and poisoning.
In some cases surgery may be needed to remove objects from an individual’s gut or to repair tissue injuries.
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