What is the cause of specific food cravings during pregnancy?

Many women have strong desires for specific foods during pregnancy. The desire for "pickles and ice cream" and other cravings might be caused by changes in nutritional needs during pregnancy. The fetus needs nourishment. And a woman's body absorbs and processes nutrients differently while pregnant. These changes help ensure normal development of the baby and fill the demands of breastfeeding once the baby is born.

Some women crave nonfood items such as clay, ice, laundry starch, or cornstarch. A desire to eat nonfood items is called pica (PYE-KUH). Eating nonfood items can be harmful to your pregnancy. Talk to your doctor if you have these urges.

This answer is based on source information from The U.S Department of Human Services Office on Womens Health.  

Deborah Davis
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
A woman's taste preferences change throughout pregnancy and these changes may affect what she chooses to eat. Most pregnant women tend to have a greater affinity for sweets, especially chocolate. Scientists think this could be caused by an increased need for calories during pregnancy.

Continue Learning about Food Safety & Pregnancy

Can I have caffeine while pregnant?
Rose ReismanRose Reisman
The good news is that you won’t have to give up caffeine completely if you’re pregnant. But, it’s im...
More Answers
What foods should I avoid if I am trying to get pregnant?
Swedish Medical CenterSwedish Medical Center
If you are trying to get pregnant you should avoid raw foods such as raw meat, raw fish and soft unp...
More Answers
What specific foods should I avoid if I am pregnant?
Melissa Joy DobbinsMelissa Joy Dobbins
Certain foods should be avoided during pregnancy: Fish that contains high levels of mercury such ...
More Answers
Who should be careful eating foods that are high in fatty acids?
Stacy Wiegman, PharmDStacy Wiegman, PharmD
Children and pregnant women are advised by the United States Food and Drug Administration to avoid g...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.