Posted by: Mom | 2004/01/21


Child eats paper, tissues, earbuds etc.

My daughter aged 10 has eaten the cottonwool from the earbuds since she could hold something in her hands. I always had to keep items such as toiletpaper, tissues, wet wipes etc out of her reach as she would grab it and chew on it (even swallow!) When she started going to daycare, she continued this behaviour and would sometimes walk around the house with the one end of the toiletpaper in her mouth, and the other end still attahced to the roll in the loo! We have explained to her that it is not good for her to eat paper and as she grew older it was much easier to control this. But still, she cannot kick the habit. Newsletters from school will end up at home half eaten! When she has a lollypop, she will also eat the paper stick. She's even eaten part of her books.

Some of our friends find this very amusing but we are worried that it might be some kind of deficiency. She does not have any pshycological problems, performs well in school, has many interests and activities and lots of friends. We are a stable happy family. We are also worried that this habit may become unacceptable as she gets older and also when she starts dating - imagine eating your serviet after dinner with your boyfriend. (Which she does now).

When we ask her why she eats the paper, she would respond that she likes the taste! Should we, from a medical point of view be concerned - or should we just make an effort to help her to stop doing it?

Your view would be very helpful but also very interresting!


Expert's Reply



The most important point is that she is otherwise healthy and seems emotionally well balanced. This behaviour may sometimes be associated with an iron deficiency, but from what you describe it sounds unlikely. It may be a good idea to have her evaluated once to put your minds at rest.

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Posted by: Mom | 2004/01/22

Thanks Doc!

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