Adorable toddler who’s literally eating her mum out of house and home – after rare condition makes her addicted to eating household objects – even toilet brushes
Meet the adorable toddler who has literally eaten her mum out of house and home – becasue a rare condition means she’s addicted to eating household objects.
Lily Mullins, two, from Weybridge, Surrey, has a condition called Pica – causing her to munch on everything from bath mats to sofas – and has even eaten a TOILET BRUSH.
Her terrified mum, Kate Ovington, 27, has to constantly keep an eye on her, as she loves to munch on brushes, shower puffs, clothing, Velcro, soft toys and sponges.
She even sometimes eats the hair straight from her one-year-old sister, Poppy’s, head.
Kate, a full-time mum-of-two, said: “I’m always worried about what Lily is going to try and eat next.
“I try to tell her that the things she’s always putting in her mouth are going to make her feel poorly, but she doesn’t understand.
“She loves to pull the hair out of her My Little Pony toy and eat it. When I tell her to stop she hides it under her pillow and sometimes I don’t realise until it’s too late.
“I’m always worried about what she’s going to move on to and try to eat next.
“She particularly loves anything with hair or bristles.”
Lily’s urge to put material things in her mouth started when she was a baby, when she would chew sponges in the bath.
Kate said: “At first I thought she was just curious and trying out new things like most babies do.
“But then she started actually biting bits off the sponges and trying to swallow them.
“One of the worst times was when we were round my friend’s house.
“She came out of the bathroom eating her toilet brush and I was horrified.
“People said to me that she was just being a child, but I knew it was something more than that.
“It grossed me out because she always seemed to go for things that people clean themselves with, like shower puffs.
“It’s the hygiene and choking aspect of it all that worries me the most.”
At the beginning of this year, Kate decided to seek medical advice and took Lily to the doctors.
Kate said: “The doctors were really unhelpful. They shrugged it off and just said that she might grow out of it, or she could just be low on iron.
“It was her teacher who originally suggested that it might be pica.
“She has to have a special mat at nursery because she pulls the threads out of carpets and tries to eat it.
“She wasn’t actually diagnosed with pica though until a month ago.
“It’s so rare that even doctors are baffled by it.
As Lily has grown older, her interest in normal food has worsened and her urge to eat inedible objects has become more dangerous.
Kate said: “She only likes apples and strawberries. As she’s getting older she’d definitely getting worse with normal food.
“But she’s also started eating worse things which she shouldn’t be.
“We go for walks and she’ll pick up a stick and start chewing it, and terrifyingly Poppy will go to copy her older sister.
“The worst was definitely when my partner Liam smashed the screen on his phone.
“Before we knew it, she was trying to eat the little pieces of glass.
“It’s just so difficult. How do you explain to a two-year-old that they shouldn’t be doing that?
“We will just have to see whether she stops in time, but I am worried about the future.”
A spokesperson from the Challenging Behaviour Foundation said: “Pica refers to eating objects which are inedible, such as stones, coins, shampoo, clothing and cigarette butts. Children and adults may eat one specific inedible object, or lots of different ones.
“Research into the causes, assessment and strategies for pica is very limited – The specific causes of pica are not clear.
“Whilst some objects pass through the body without harm, pica can potentially be life threatening. Risks include vomiting, constipation, infections, blockages in the gut and intestines, choking and poisoning.”
The Challenging Behaviour Foundation are a charity for people with severe learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge.
Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr Caz Nahman said: “Assessment and treatment can be a bit complicated and there isn’t a service that I’m aware of (in the UK) that specifically specialises in treatment of Pica.
“Some nutritional deficiencies (e.g. iron, zinc and calcium) are more likely to be linked to Pica and treatment of these can reduce the incidence.”
Things Lily likes to eat:
– Bristles (toothbrush, hair brush, toilet brush, broom)
– Shower puffs
– Toys (usually ones that have hair, netting or fluffy material)
– Occasionally dirt, sand etc
– Soft toys