PARENTS

Girl, 4, Eats Carpets And Furniture Because Of Rare Eating Disorder

07/04/2015 12:24 | Updated 07 June 2015

Girl, 4, eats carpets and furniture because of rare eating disorder

A four-year-old girl eats carpets, furniture and cement because of a rare eating disorder.

Jessica Knight suffers from Pica, which makes her crave non-food substances – and it is seriously damaging her health.

The little girl's bizarre behaviour started when she was two and she ate strips of a faux leather child's chair.

She also munched small chips of cement, sand from play areas and the filling of her little sister's rocking horse.

Over the last year she has eaten the sponge underlay beneath her bedroom carpet and foam padding inside an armchair.

Her mum Kelly, 36, from March, Cambridgeshire, is now at her wits' end and has called for more research into Pica.

She said: "I was really shocked when I realised just how much she was eating. If you lift up the carpet in her room now you can see there is no underlay left.

"We try to keep her busy so she doesn't do it but if we try to stop her she will find a way to do it.

"To stop her I would have to remove everything from my house, including all chairs and sofas.

"Doctors always said it wasn't a problem and it's taken two years for them to finally listen to me.

"The GP sent Jessica to a paediatrician and we've been referred to two others since but she hasn't had any help.

"We've been told they can't help her until she is six and has reached the appropriate cognitive development."

People suffering from Pica frequently crave and eat substances with no nutrition, such as dirt, paint, ice, sand, glue and chalk.

Jessica refuses to eat foods with any sauces and Kelly is limited to giving her plain sausages, cheese strings, rice pudding, bread, Weetabix and fish fingers without breadcrumbs.

She gets stomach cramps and constipation from her habit and was once left unable to stand and screaming in pain.

Kelly, who lives with her two girls and their engineer father Chris Knight, 40, now allows Jessica to keep a small purse filled with carpet sponge to help control her intake.

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation, a charity for people with severe learning disabilities and difficult behaviour, said: "It is estimated that four to 26 per cent of people with learning disabilities display pica behaviour.

"Whilst some objects pass through the body without harm, pica can potentially be life threatening.

"Addressing these behaviours as soon as possible can prevent problems later in life, and can greatly improve the lives of children and their families."

Suggest a correction