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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Pica


Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Pica is an eating disorder in which a person repeatedly eats non-food items.

What is going on in the body?

Someone with pica may eat clay, dirt, metal, paper, animal feces, paint, or hair. This disorder is most common in children, persons with mental retardation, and pregnant women. It usually occurs for no known reason.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The exact cause of pica is often unknown. It's considered normal for children younger than 18 to 24 months old to put things in their mouths. After this age, eating non-food items is thought to be abnormal. Some people are more likely to have pica:

  • children older than 24 months
  • pregnant women, especially in rural areas
  • persons with mental retardation
  • people with severe psychological problems
  • people with zinc or iron deficiency


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    Pica: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: James Broomfield, MD
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 07/27/01

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