Craving the smell of gasoline while pregnant [What To Know]

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Updated August 3, 2022

When you’re pregnant, it seems like every single thing you used to love suddenly becomes a trigger for intense cravings.

For some people it’s ice cream, for others it’s pickles – and for others, it is craving the smell of gasoline while pregnant, that craving might be a bit more unusual.

So what’s the story behind this strange phenomenon?

And is there any reason to be concerned? Here’s what you need to know.


craving the snell of gasoline while pregnant


Craving the smell of gasoline while pregnant – What does it mean?

Strange cravings during pregnancy (Pica) are not uncommon and craving the smell of gasoline while pregnant is one of them.

As with the smell of many other volatile organic compounds  (VOCs), extended exposure to their fumes should be avoided.

Other common VOCs to avoid include paint, varnishes, urethanes … essentially any industrial chemicals with strong odors.

Many years ago, gas stations installed covers over the nozzle which has significantly reduced the gas fumes released when filling your tank.

It is generally considered to be safe to pump gas while pregnant.

Granted this is a relative risk as once a week pumping gas vs working at a gas station are vastly different in terms of the amount of exposure to gasoline and exhaust fumes.

During pregnancy craving for the smell of gasoline and other non-food items, known as Desiderosmia, is nearly as common as food cravings.

The concern with gasoline is that it is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that evaporates rapidly and thus can easily be absorbed into the bloodstream when inhaled.

If one is subjected to a high level of gasoline fumes or other VOCs it can result in kidney, liver, or brain damage, and the death of the mother.

This extremely high level of exposure would most likely be the result of an occupational hazard.

Gasoline and exhaust fumes contain benzene which is known to cause leukemia in adults.

Pregnancy exposure can also result in low birth weight infants, stillbirth, and other effects.

II is important if you are having cravings for non-food items l that you discuss with a healthcare provider.

Some cravings can indicate a pregnancy complication called iron deficiency anemia.



What is iron-deficiency anemia in pregnancy?

Though there are many causes of anemia, for women, the most common cause is iron deficiency anemia.

This type of anemia is often related to having heavy menses.

Women with heavy menstrual blood loss may not be aware they are anemic.

The first time many women will learn they have anemia is when their blood count is checked at their first prenatal visit.

Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia can include fatigue, exhaustion, shortness of breath, and olfactory cravings.

These symptoms usually subside once you are treated with an iron supplement.

It is critical to get your anemia diagnosed and treated quickly because it directly affects the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood to the fetus.


What is PICA during pregnancy?

PICA is a disorder that causes craving and consumption of non-food items.

PICA can occur in pregnancy and is more common in pregnant women who have iron deficiencies.
Pica occurs in up to 40% of pregnant women in the United States and that could be an underestimated number.

While the exact cause of PICA is unknown, it is thought to be related to changes in hormonal levels during pregnancy or a deficiency in micronutrients

The most commonly craved items include dirt, clay, ice, and chalk.

But some pregnant women crave wood, wood shavings, ash, corn starch, coffee grounds, and paint chips.

While eating these items may not always be harmful to the mother, they can pose a risk to the developing baby.

Ingesting nonfood items can lead to gastrointestinal blockages or perforations, and may also increase the risk of infection, birth defects, or low birth weight.

If you think you may have PICA, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider.
They can help to rule out other causes of cravings and can provide guidance on how to safely satisfy your cravings.


Related Post: Craving The Smell Of Soap While Pregnant


Is craving the smell of gasoline during pregnancy harmful?

Yes, the inhalation of volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs, during pregnancy can affect the fetal growth and mental development of your child.

VOCs are substances that typically have a strong odor and evaporate very quickly.

This volatility allows the compound to more easily absorb into your bloodstream and since these compounds are often documented to be hazardous to one’s health, excess inhalation of such compounds must be avoided.

The volatility of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and their ability to cause feelings of euphoria, make them particularly dangerous and prone to abuse.

Though this article is about craving smells while pregnant and not abusing substances, the fact that they are abused is one reason why volatile organic compounds have been studied extensively.

These dangers often apply to other VOCs as well.

Since it is not possible to completely avoid occasional VOCs such as gasoline, wet paint, urethane, etc., universally avoiding the smell of VOCs is the only health recommendation one can make due to the known health danger of benzene exposure.

Just remember, you are not alone, strange cravings for chemical smells during pregnancy are not uncommon.

A basic rule of thumb: If you are craving chemical smells during pregnancy and it is not a food or known-to-be-safe fragrant product, it is important to avoid the smell, especially prior to conception and during the first trimester.

Strong chemical smells that are volatile can have a significant effect on your body because they can be absorbed into your body to toxic levels.

Evaporation of VOCs is rapid and the fumes from these solutions are in high concentrations when not contained and allowed to evaporate into the air you breathe.

Though there are no clear guidelines about how much exposure to chemical smells during pregnancy is too much, there are studies that have shown an association between pregnant women’s exposure to gasoline and exhaust during preconception or the first trimester and the development of childhood leukemia.


Why am I craving the smell of gasoline?

If you are craving the smell of gasoline during pregnancy the most likely cause is iron deficiency anemia.

You should contact your doctor or midwife so they can get the proper testing and treatment going for you.

Once you start taking iron supplements your cravings should go away.


Is it normal to crave smells during pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a time of change, both physically and emotionally.

And as your body undergoes some major changes, it’s not uncommon for your senses to change as well.

One common change that pregnant women experience is a heightened sense of smell.

This can lead to cravings for certain smells or an aversion to others.

While it’s normal to experience these changes, it’s important to be aware of them and take steps to protect your health.

If you find that you’re suddenly craving smells that you normally avoid, or if you’re feeling nauseated by strong odors, be sure to let your doctor know.

They can help you identify any potential risks and make sure that you and your baby stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.


Is gasoline safe during pregnancy?

The answer is not clear-cut.

Some studies have found that exposure to gasoline fumes can lead to developmental problems in unborn babies, while other studies have found no such link.

However, most experts agree that it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid exposure to gasoline fumes whenever possible.

If you must be around gasoline, make sure to ventilate the area well and avoid inhaling the fumes directly.

Also, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after any exposure.

By taking these precautions, you can help minimize any risks to you and your baby.



Final Thoughts

So … craving the smell of gasoline while pregnant must be avoided short of the occasional need to pump gas. If pumping gas can be avoided it is best to do so.

Remember to wash your hands if your skin comes in contact with gasoline or kerosene.