Review of the nature of some geophagic materials and their potential health effects on pregnant women: some examples from Africa

Selma N. Kambunga, Carla Candeias, Israel Hasheela, Hassina Mouri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The voluntary human consumption of soil known as geophagy is a global practice and deep-rooted in many African cultures. The nature of geophagic material varies widely from the types to the composition. Generally, clay and termite mound soils are the main materials consumed by geophagists. Several studies revealed that gestating women across the world consume more soil than other groups for numerous motives. These motivations are related to medicinal, cultural and nutrients supplementation. Although geophagy in pregnancy (GiP) is a universal dynamic habit, the highest prevalence has been reported in African countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Nigeria, Tanzania, and South Africa. Geophagy can be both beneficial and detrimental. Its health effects depend on the amount and composition of the ingested soils, which is subjective to the geology and soil formation processes. In most cases, the negative health effects concomitant with the practice of geophagy eclipse the positive effects. Therefore, knowledge about the nature of geophagic material and the health effects that might arise from their consumption is important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2949-2975
Number of pages27
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Volume41
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Keywords

  • Africa
  • Geophagy
  • Health implications
  • Pregnant women
  • Soil material consumed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Environmental Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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