Hypokalemic myopathy in pregnancy caused by clay ingestion

Chinwe Ukaonu, D. Ashley Hill, Franklyn Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: We present a case of severe hypokalemic myopathy during pregnancy caused by clay ingestion. CASE: A multigravida presented with fatigue, muscle weakness, and a 3-day history of extremity pain. Serum potassium levels were 1.5 mEq/L, requiring intravenous potassium replacement. The initial evaluation was unrewarding for the cause of the patient's hypokalemia until a family member reported that the patient frequently ate large quantities of clay. Discontinuation of clay ingestion led to normalization of potassium levels. CONCLUSION: Pica, the persistent ingestion of nonnutritive substances, can cause a number of medical problems. Pica of clay, called geophagia, can bind potassium in the intestine, leading to severe hypokalemic myopathy. Clinicians caring for pregnant women with fatigue, muscle weakness, and hypokalemia should consider geophagia as a possible cause.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1169-1171
Number of pages3
JournalObstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number5 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Hypokalemic myopathy in pregnancy caused by clay ingestion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this