Identifying Pica



Several innately inquisitive kids have the tendency of putting non-victual items into their mouths at some occasion or the other.

Infants having pica, nevertheless, are observed to cross the line of this naive exploring of their surroundings. With nearly 25-30% of children (twenty percent of whom are noticed in mental health treatment centers) have pica- the eating disorder that is typified by continual and uncontrollable yearnings for eating non-victual items that lasts for a month or more.

What Is Pica?

pica behaviorPica is derived from the Latin word for the bird magpie that has the reputation for its humongous and indiscriminate foraging desire for food.

Pica is prevalent among individuals having developmental disorders inclusive of autism and the mentally retarded and among kids in the ages of two to three years. Though infants aged up to two years of age could attempt at eating non-food items and it is not essentially deemed unusual in that age.

Pica could arise as conduct amongst kids that have undergone a brain damage that affects their development. This could additionally be an issue amongst few pregnant women and observed among epileptic people.

Those having pica regularly long for and devour non-food items like dirt, clay, chipping paint, plaster, chalk, cornstarch, laundry based starch, baking soda, cigarette ash or buds, previously ignited match stick tips, faeces, coffee grounds, ice, glue, hair, paper, sand, soap, toothpaste and buttons.

Though ingestion of few non-food items is not harmful, but pica is deemed to be a grave eating disorder that could at times lead to grave health issues like lead poisoning and iron-deficit anemia.

Pica Symptoms

One must be vigilant regarding the below mentioned signs that one’s kid could have pica:

  • Recurring ingestion of non-food items in spite of endeavours at restricting it for spans of a month or more.
  • The behaviour is deemed improper in case of one’s kid’s age and developmental phase (more than two years old).
  • The behaviour is not part of any culture, ethnicity or devout practices.

Pica Causes

The precise reasons behind pica arising is unidentified, though particular conditions and circumstances could raise the likelihood of developing pica:

  • Those nutritionally deficient in iron or zinc could elicit such particular cravings, though the craving for non-food items generally fail to replenish the mineral deficit in the body.
  • Those dieting could try to lower hunger pangs by consuming non-food items to achieve a sense of being full.
  • Undernourishment particularly in third world countries is where individuals with pica mostly consume soil or clay.
  • A well-read custom in some kin, religions or factions wherein non-food substances are consumed.
  • Parental ignorance, dearth of care or being deprived of food mostly observed among underprivileged kids.
  • Those having developmental issues like mentally retarded, autistic or other developmental problems or brain anomalies.
  • Mental health problems like OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenics.
  • Pregnancy – though it has been indicated that pica when pregnant happens recurrently among women that showed analogous pattern during infancy or prior to pregnancy or had a past of pica in their kin.
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