Pregnant, breastfeeding women should avoid Calabash chalk due to lead poisoning risks

Health Canada is cautioning pregnant and breastfeeding women against using Calabash chalk – commonly used as a remedy for morning sickness – because it may pose serious health risks.

Testing on the chalk, sold in pellet, block and powder form, has shown the presence of lead and arsenic. Young children exposed to lead may harm the nervous system and neurological development. Long-term exposure to arsenic may cause cancer, the federal agency warned.

The chalk is typically used by women in African communities. People who have been taking calabash chalk should speak to their health care practitioner.

Calabash chalk is not authorized for sale in Canada. Health Canada is advising retailers to pull the product and is urging consumers who may have purchased it to return it to the place of purchase.

Advisory notice