Initial tests done on two young women, whose appetite for soap has refused to die, have revealed that they are anaemic and are suffering from severe iron deficiency.
The two sisters, Sharon Chepchirchir, 24 and Lydia Chepkemboi, 17, were tested by doctors at Oak Tree Hospital in Eldoret on Thursday.
Dr Mathew Koech, who led a team of medical specialists in conducting specialised tests on their blood said the deficiency could point to the reason for their weird cravings although he said they will be doing further tests.
“Among the two sisters the younger one is the most affected. Normal blood level should be between 14-18 pints but for her case she has 7 pints which is very low for a woman. Her cells are also very small in size they are size 48 but they should be between size 80-100,” said Dr Koech.
“We also realised that her iron level in the body is basically empty. And between the two she is the one who craves for soap more,” he added.
Dr Koech said that their initial suspicion was that the ladies lacked sodium and potassium and that is why they were eating soap. But after the test they ruled out this possibility.
“Indeed as doctors we have confirmed that the two girls have both been eating soap since they were 5 years old. However, we could not find any particular explanation as to why they crave for soap. We had suspected they lack sodium and potassium which they lose in urine but they have enough,” said Dr Koech.
He disclosed that soap did not have any nutritional value since it is made of a lot of fatty acid, sodium and potassium.
The doctor said that they will be carrying out new set of medical tests to try and solve the puzzle on why the girls had severe iron deficiency yet they consumed a balanced diet but iron isn’t absorbed into their blood streams.
“Normally iron deficiency occurs to individuals who are severely malnourished, in dire situations, who have heavy worm manifestation, who leave in arid areas or those who have chronic blood loss. These girls have none of the above conditions,” explained Dr Koech.
“We will be seeking to unravel what really makes them not take in the iron they consume into their blood stream,” he added.
Dr Koech admitted that their condition is unique.
He warned that if the two girls didn’t get help to end their cravings, the habit could soon start impacting on their health negatively.
“The colouring agent and the perfumes added to soap can be harmful to the body and that was our main concern. During out test though we did not find any harm the soap has done on their bodies so far but of course if they continue there a potential for harm for their bodies,” said Dr Koech.
The two sisters have been eating soap since they were both five years of age.
They said they have tried everything possible to abandon this habit but they cannot go a single day without enjoying the weird delicacy.