A General Physician, Dr Agnes Nwoke, on Monday advised pregnant women against consuming “Calabash chalk’’ popularly called ‘Nzu’, to avoid lead poisoning.
Nwoke, who works in St. Charles Clinic in Urum, said in Awka that Nzu contains high level of lead which could poison the unborn baby.
Supreme reports that Nzu (calabash chalk) is an edible clay that is found mainly in Nigeria and other West African countries.
In Nigeria, most people call it Nzu in Igbo, Ndom in Efik/Ibibio and Eko in Bini/Edo language.
Nwoke said the chalk is a natural product, locally prepared from clay, sand, salt and other non-nutritional components.
According to her, the craving for the chalk is not peculiar to pregnant women and teenagers, even men eat it.
Nwoke said there was no scientific evidence that the calabash chalk relieves nausea, vomiting or stops morning sickness in pregnancy as many believed.
“Eating Nzu is a practice that has become addictive to many. Some started it because of pregnancy craving, while for others, it can be due to iron deficiency anemia and malnutrition.
“Calabash chalk is unhealthy, it contains excess lead compounds capable of harming the body.
“It contains excess lead that causes low potassium and iron, muscle weakness, nerve damage, inflamed stomach, poisoning and low blood level.
“I have seen many people being treated for lead toxicity, inflammation of the stomach (gastritis), very low red blood cells (severe anaemia), ulcers, and nerve damages due to chronic consumption of Nzu,’’ she said.