Boy gets new 'inedible' bedroom: Six-year-old with rare condition that means he craves solid objectsZach Tahir, from Salford, suffers from the rare condition PicaIt causes him to crave inedible objects, including stones, paper and moss
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Members of the Coronation Street cast got behind the campaign to raise money for Zach
Soap stars Kym Marsh, left, and Kate Ford,
right, lent their support to the campaign to raise awareness
and fun a new safe-proof room for the five-year-old
Actor John Henshaw also supported the efforts to help build an extension for the child
Some of the loose plaster in Zach's bedroom which the youngster has been eating
Those included in supporting Zach's fund are members of the cast of ITV soap Coronation Street and comedian John Bishop.
who gave up her job in a bank to look after Zach, said: 'It's been
overwhelming how much people have helped to raise the money for Zach's
'It's such a
worry knowing he could put anything in his mouth, and when he began
eating wood, I was terrified it may splinter in his mouth or he would
swallow a large piece and choke.'
THE CONDITION THAT CAN MAKE CHILDREN EAT ANYTHING
People suffering from Pica frequently crave and eat substances with no nutrition, such as dirt, paint, ice, sand, glue and chalk.
The condition, which gets its name from the Latin word for magpie – a bird known for its large and indiscriminate appetite – affects up to 30 per cent of children aged between one and six.
Although the condition sounds bizarre, it is actually classed as serious eating disorder that can cause serious health problems such as lead poisoning and anaemia.
However, in some cases, a lack of certain nutrients, such as iron or zinc deficiency may trigger the unusual cravings.
Pica is most common in people with learning or developmental disabilities, such as autism, or those who've suffered a brain injury.
It can also be a problem for some pregnant women or people with epilepsy.
In many cases, the disorder lasts several months, then disappears on its own.
Otherwise, treatment can involve replacing missing nutrients causing the cravings, giving medication to deal with a learning disability or giving rewards for eating normal food.
Zach, who has a younger sister, Isabella, three, has suffered with Pica all through his life and began by eating moss when he first could walk around outside.
'He likes things that are very textured, such as moss and paper, as he can mull them around and chew on them for a while,' Ms Horn said.
'It's worrying for me as a parent, as you worry what kind of germs he might be eating.'
Amazingly, despite having the condition all of his life, Zach, who is autistic and cannot speak, has never needed any medical treatment.
But, Ms Horn finds it hard to trust Zach as he goes out of his way to find things to eat.
She has CCTV equipment installed in his bedroom which she can access at any time from her smartphone.
She said: 'When I hear him in the night, I just switch on the camera through my phone and can see what I'm doing.
'If I go straight in there, he can become distressed and not want me to leave him again, so it's best if I can see what he's doing without him knowing.
'He doesn't sleep much because he has a very active mind due to being autistic so he keeps me on my toes, especially at night.
'His new room will mean he can settle more and will hopefully go to sleep for longer periods when he realises there's no point in him staying up to try and find things to eat.'