Four girls, 6 to 10 years of age, ate stones collected from the compound of their house in Kampung Padang Lembu, some 20km from Sungai Petani, Kedah.
They ate them to stave off hunger but are now under hospital observation after undergoing treatment at the intensive care unit of Sultan Abdul Halim hospital here on May 30.
The children were given blood transfusion as their haemoglobin level was too low as they had been eating stones for a week. All are in stable condition but have to be warded for a week.
The eldest, Yogeswari said the soil tasted like chocolate to her. She had been eating stones since last year, adding that it was very crunchy and tasted like chocolate.
Admitting that she was the one who had introduced the stones to the 3 girls, the schoolgirl from SJK (T) Kalaivani in Kampung Padang Lembu said they secretly ate the stones behind their parents’ back.
She will collect the stones and hid them in her schoolbag and would eat them in her room.
The 3 sisters, Yogeswary, 10, Nageswari, 8, Ganggadevi, 6, and their cousin N. Vikneswary, 9, are never full after eating food prepared by the mother.
They will only feel full after eating the stones.
Her father had caught her eating the stones few months back and was punished but soon she was back to the habit.
They had vomited and complained of stomach pain earlier.
The matter came to light when their 70 year old grandfather, Supramaniam, was about to send the eldest girl to a medical camp when she told him her 2 younger sisters and the cousin at home were also in pain. He visited their house and found the girls groaning. They were weak and could barely move.
The stones they ate contained worm eggs, which had hatched inside their stomach. The worm consumed blood in their bodies, As a result, it makes them weaker, suffer from stomach pain and vomit.
Although it was uncommon for people to die from such illnesses, however, if the victim had other health complications, the condition could be fatal.
The children’s parents were at home then. The mother had just given birth 10 days earlier.
Accompanying them at the hospital was their 61-year-old grandmother N. Bathumalai.
The mother V. Sarojini, 27, was unable to visit the daughters and niece as she has 2 other daughters and a son to take care of, at home.
The girls were admitted to the hospital after her husband, R. Inderan, 43, searched their room and found plastic packages containing stones hidden in their schoolbags and closet.
They had been warned several times about it but they denied doing it.
Ganggadevi and Nageswari were admitted to the hospital for the same problem last June and in January this year.
The father may earn a small salary working as a labourer but they are never out of food.
Inderan and his wife had been branded as unfit parents by their neighbours after the media highlighted the matter. The father said the accusations were unjust as they had done their best for the children.
The 4 girls will be referred to child psychologists if their acts are proven to be habitual and not driven by hunger. Doctors treating the children would conduct an evaluation on the case.
The Lucky Chinese
A girl from north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region had set a new Guiness World Record after eating nothing but dirt for 2 months. The 19 year-old Chinese girl Bao Bao has a very weird habit of eating soil.
She became a minor celebrity after the media broadcast stories about her curious eating habits in 2006. TV stations in China, Japan and South Korea picked up her story.
It started when she was 7 years old, at a play ground. She felt the urge to taste the soil on the ground and since the first taste, she could not stop eating soil.
It gives her energy.
The girl said she feels no need to eat normal food now that she has discovered how much she likes to eat soil. If given the choice, she'd rather live without rice but not soil and it has to be yellowish, soft, and powdery.
Her daily portion is usually half pound to two pounds a day to keep her going - And she has eaten over 3,000 pounds (1360 kg).
Friends often joke her boyfriend is having a “cheap-date”.