The word pica came from the Latin word magpie. Magpie is the name of the bird which is known for its large and indiscriminate appetite.
Pica is the eating disorder and this problem will be mostly seen in the people who have developmental disabilities such as autism and mental retardation.
This disorder is mostly seen in the small kids. The children who are around 2 to 3 years and who are younger than 18 to 24 months can try to eat nonfood items.
This cannot be considered as abnormal at that age.
This disorder can also be considered as the behavior that may also surface on the children who’ve had a brain injury which affects their development. This problem of pica can also be seen in some pregnant women and the people with epilepsy.
The nonfood items that will be consumed by the people who are suffering with pica are:
Dirt, Paint chips, Clay, Chalk, Plaster, Laundry starch, Cornstarch, Coffee grounds, Baking soda, Burnt match heads, Cigarette ashes, Feces, Cigarette butts, Glue, Ice, Buttons, Hair, Sand, Paper, Soap and Toothpaste.
Although the consumption of some items are harmless, it is considered as a serious eating disorder that can sometime result in some serious health problems such as iron deficiency anemia and lead poisoning.
The warning signs that you can observe in your child if he has pica:
- The children who have this disorder will perform the repetitive consumption of a non food item, despite of the efforts to restrict it for a time period of one month and above.
- Inappropriate behavior will be seen in your child’s age and developmental stage.
- The behavior of your child will be not part of an ethnic, cultural and religious practice.
Specific causes for pica is not known, but certain situation and conditions can lead to risk of obtaining pica.
The conditions and situations which can increase a person’s risk for pica are:
Nutritional deficiencies such as zinc or iron deficiency which may lead to trigger specific cravings
Dieting: People who go on diet will make an effort to lesser their hunger by consuming non-food substances to get the feeling of fullness.
Malnutrition: This problem will be mostly seen in underdeveloped countries and many people are seen with pica. They most commonly eat soil and clay.
Cultural factors: In some religions, families or groups, eating nonfood substances will be a learned practice.
Lack of supervision, parental neglect, or food deprivation can also lead to this problem in small children.
Developmental problems: Some developmental problems such as autism, mental retardation, brain abnormalities and developmental disabilities will lead to this problem.
Mental health condition: Problems in mental health condition such as schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder can also lead to the problem of pica.
Pregnancy: This problem of pica will be observed in the pregnant women who exhibit similar practices during childhood or who have the history of pica in their family.
Hence from the above information you can able to know the causes of pica.