What are the causes of pica?

Pica is the ingestion of non-nutritive substances such as clay, dirt, paper, etc. It may, at times, cause medical problems that are serious.

It often afflicts deprived children.

Birds and apes are also known to eat clay.

What are the causes of pica? And how can it be treated?

I’ve heard that vitamin/mineral dificiency is the cause.
That being true, I’d guess that a balanced diet and perhaps a supplement would cure it.

So, whatcha reading tonight, berdollos?

Allow me to be the first to post the Cecil link.

Iron deficiency, as Cecil indicated, could be a very good explanation in some cases. Thanks for the reference to Cecil’s posting.

…and all this time I thought it was simply that the elite switch had been flipped…:wink:

I work in Rehabilitation and this disorder is indeed very rare among adults, I have never seen it in person. I know of one case where the afflicted person had to live their life in nearly twenty four hour restraints as his condition causes him to eat linen and fabric. This individual had eaten their clothing and bedsheets to the point where it had become life threatening.

I cannot imagine anyone being able to eat an entire bedsheet yet this happened to be the case.

I have this. I eat ice constantly, but it has to be the crushed kind. The doctors tell me it’s an iron defecincy. Well, sure enuf, when I remember to take my iron pills, the desire to consume mass quantites of ice diminishes. There is something I don’t understand about it though. Why ice? Why not water? Or spinach for that matter. Isn’t it high in iron? Of course, I can stop anytime. :slight_smile:

I spent 6 years working at a state school for the mentally retarded on a unit that had 2 dorms with pica clients. Nobody there knew what caused it, but I have personally seen it, and these people would eat anything! One girl pulled the insole of her shoe out and swallowed it. During surgery to remove it, they found several dozen other items in her stomach, including Lego blocks, paper clips, and pen caps. Another girl (before coming to us) had, according to her record, swallowed the metal part of an ice pick! It was very common to have to stop people from eating the stuffing out of chairs, or the plaster from a hole in the wall.