Pica is the disorder wherein kids generally consume non food items. This can be due to many causes and can signify certain diseases

Young kids often suffer from pica and may eat non food items for months together. It is a behavioral disorder many a times and it can be due to other diseases also. Children between the ages of 1 to 6 years normally can have this condition. It is a compulsive craving to such items. People who have developmental disabilities or mental retardation and autism can be a victim of this.

Pica and its signs

Children who may suffer from brain injury can get Pica. Even pregnant women may become face disorder. Epilepsy may aggravate this issue. Dirt, feces, soil, clay, plaster, paint chips, chalk and cornstarch are a few of the items one may eat. A person may also consume cigarette ash and butt, glue, ice, buttons, paper, hair, soap, sand and toothpaste.

You can identify if your child has Pica, if they consume a particular nonfood item again and again for a month or more. Even the efforts to stop it cannot deter them sometimes. It can be a compulsive disorder. Many of the religious and cultural practices may include such activity.

Causes of Pica

There are specific causes to Pica but certain situations and conditions can raise the risks to it.

  • Dieting: People who are dieting may try to ease their hunger by consuming nonfood item or substances to fill their stomach.
  • Nutritional deficiency: Iron, zinc, iodine and calcium deficiency may urge children to crave for certain nonfood items. But these objects do not fulfill the requirement of that nutrient.
  • Malnutrition: In many countries, due to poverty, children may consume such objects and things as they do not get enough food to eat. Pica behavior may include eating soil or stones.
  • Developmental problems: Autism or mental retardation and other developmental disabilities or brain issues and abnormalities may lead to Pica.
  • Cultural factors: In many religions and region practices and rituals people observe pica activities. In some tribes and cultures certain activities of this kind may exist.
  • Mental conditions: obsessive compulsive disorder and paralysis or the brain and schizophrenia can cause Pica.
  • Lack of supervision and parental neglect: If the parents do not take care of their children and provide them food, then kids may develop wrong eating habits.
  • Pregnancy: People with pica during pregnancy may develop such habits due to craving for some nonfood items and this can be the repeat of their childhood behavior.

Prevention and treatment

Doctor may identify the cause of the pica and plan out the treatment for the children according to their age and gender. It may focus on correcting the behavior. Pica may result in creating gastrointestinal problems and digestive diseases. Excessive salivation and cuts in the mouth and the lips may also affect the children due to this.

If someone eats stone, it can affect the teeth and the gums. Constriction in the throat and the windpipe can also happen.