Sunday , April 11 2021

Toddler munches her way through doormats, gravel, her cot



The parents of a "beaver" toddler who chomps through doormats and CDs have been forced to remove loads of household items from their living room for fear she will eat them.

Little Ruby Smith, from Bedford, has an ultra-rare neurological disorder that causes epilepsy, paralysis and pizza – a condition that sees her eating non-food items.

  Little Ruby was born with a pizza - a condition that sees people eating non-food items

Kennedy News and Media

Little Ruby was born with a pizza – a condition that sees people eating non-food items
  Now 4-year-old, she has a mental age of a baby

Kennedy News and Media

Now 4-year-old, she has a mental age of a baby

Mum Claire Parsons has had to ban Ruby from going into the garden or kitchen on her own, because she was known to eat gravel, grass and cat food if left alone.

She even had a go on her cot, which has gnawing marks on the wood.

Now, Claire, 44, has been forced to crowdfund for a special needs bed that includes "plastic teeth covering" so that her "special little girl" does not eat it.

"She's always got something in her mouth – even the cat! She's like a little beaver," said Claire.

  She's tried to get into Steve the Cat

Kennedy News and Media

She's tried to get into Steve the Cat
  And she must be kept out of the kitchen and garden in case she tries to eat something dangerous

Kennedy News and Media

And she must be kept out of the kitchen and garden in case she tries to eat something dangerous
  Ruby was delivered via emergency c-section

Kennedy News and Media

Ruby was delivered via emergency c-section

"If she can get her hands on it she will eat it.

"The wooden bar [of her cot] has been chewed down for a few months. I have to be careful what I cover it with so she can not chew that either.

"There's nothing in our living room for her to get hold of – no books, no DVDs, nothing she could rip up and chew."

Ruby has alternating hemiplegia of childhood (AHC) – an ultra-rare neurological condition that causes epilepsy, paralysis, low muscle tone, cerebral palsy and uncontrollable body movements.

Symptoms of pizza

Pica is an eating disorder that involves eating items that are not actually food.

There are no laboratory tests for the condition yet.

Symptoms can include:

  • persistent eating (for over a month) of substances that are not food and do not provide nutritional value
  • items eaten tend to vary with age and availability. They may include paper, soap, cloth, hair, string, wool, soil, chalk, talcum powder, paint, gum, metal, pebbles, charcoal, ash, clay, starch or ice
  • the eating of these substances must be developmentally inappropriate (i.e. babies tend to put stuff in their mouths but a five-year-old should have grown out of that habit)

Pica often occurs along with other mental health problems and learning difficulties.

It can affect children, teens and adults.

  She was born with alternating hemiplegia of childhood

Kennedy News and Media

She was born with alternating hemiplegia of childhood
  She's often rushed to hospital for seizures

Kennedy News and Media

She's often rushed to hospital for seizures
  She can play one moment and become paralysed next

Kennedy News and Media

She can play one moment and become paralysed next

Pica is also listed as a common symptom of AHC, and it causes the sufferers to eat non-food items like hair, dirt or foam.

The brave little girl was first diagnosed with AHC in 2016 after repeated visits to the Bedford Hospital for genetic testing.

She started having seizures at just five days old, and would be rushed to the hospital "three or four times a week".

Now four-year-old, Ruby has a mental age of about 10 months.

  Paper is her favorite thing to chew on, which means that no CD covers are safe

Kennedy News and Media

Paper is her favorite thing to chew on, which means that no CD covers are safe

Kennedy News and Media

"Some of it is sensory. When you're a baby you chew things, lick them, it's just a phase – but she's still doing it.
  The little girl was diagnosed with her rare disorder at just five days old

Kennedy News and Media

The little girl was diagnosed with her rare disorder at just five days old

Like a baby, she chews and licks things rather than using her other senses.

"(Pica) can be very dangerous. Children with her condition are prone to choking due to paralysis and low muscle tone," her mum continued.

"Paper is one of its favorites – like on video games cases. So we do not keep those anymore or CD cases.

"She has tried to eat grass and gravel in the past.

"We had one of the furry doormats too and she choked – she took a big chunk out of it. Her dad, Sam, saved her life – I was about to ring an ambulance."

The bed, which needs to be made by a specialist firm, costs £ 1,500 and will be made from plastic-covered wood.

  She's been gnawing on her wooden cot

Kennedy News and Media

She's been gnawing on her wooden cot

Kennedy News and Media

"We need to keep her safe from choking because that's what's most important."
  Despite being non-verbal, her mum says that Ruby is

Kennedy News and Media

Despite being non-verbal, her mum says that Ruby is "such a special little girl who is full of cheeky smiles and raspberries"

"This bed will be a safe place for her. It's just a part of who she is," Claire said.

"We need to keep her safe from choking because that's what's most important."

You donate it to Ruby's bed, visit her JustGiving page.


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