Lots of young kids put nonfood products in their mouths at one time or another. They’re naturally curious about their environment and might, for instance, eat some dirt from the sandbox. Kids with pica, however, surpass this innocent exploration of their environments.
The term “pica” is Latin for the word “Magpie,” which is a bird known for its uncommon and indiscriminate eating behaviors. It is estimated that 10% to 30% of kids ages one through 6 have this disorder; and it is especially typical in pregnant women as well.
Pica Disorder in Infants
The word pica comes from the Latin word for magpie, a bird known for its big and indiscriminate hunger.
Pica is most typical in people with developmental specials needs, like autism and intellectual specials needs, and in children between the ages of 2 and 3. Pica also may surface in children who’ve had a brain injury impacting their development. It can likewise be a problem for some pregnant women, as well as individuals with epilepsy.
People with pica regularly long for and eat nonfood products such as:
- paint chips
- laundry starch
- baking soda
- coffee premises
- cigarette ashes
- charred match heads
- cigarette butts
Pica is an eating condition that can lead to serious illness, such as lead poisoning and iron-deficiency anemia.
Signs of Pica
Indication that a child may have pica include:
- eating of nonfood products, regardless of efforts to limit it, for a duration of a minimum of 1 month or longer
- the habits is considered improper for your child’s age or developmental stage
- the habits is not part of a cultural, ethnic, or spiritual practice
Why Do Some People Eat Nonfood Products?
The specific causes of pica are unidentified, but certain conditions and circumstances can increase a person’s risk:
- dietary deficiencies, such as iron or zinc, that might trigger particular cravings (however, the nonfood products craved generally do not supply the minerals lacking in the individual’s body).
- dieting– people who diet might attempt to alleviate appetite by eating nonfood compounds to get a sensation of fullness.
- malnutrition, especially in developing nations, where individuals with pica most commonly eat soil or clay.
- cultural factors– in households, faiths, or groups where eating nonfood substances is a learned practice.
- adult neglect, absence of supervision, or food deprivation– often seen in children living in poverty.
- developmental problems, such as mental retardation, autism, other developmental impairments, or brain problems.
- mental health conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia.
- pregnancy, but it’s been recommended that pica during pregnancy takes place more often in women who displayed comparable practices during their youth or prior to pregnancy or who have a history of pica in their family.
Eating earth compounds such as clay or dirt is a type of pica known as geophagia, which can cause iron shortage. One theory to explain geophagia is that in some cultures, consuming clay or dirt is thought to help alleviate nausea (and therefore, morning sickness), control diarrhea, boost salivation, get rid of toxic substances, and change odor or taste perception.
Some individuals claim to delight in the taste and texture of dirt or clay or other non-food item, and eat it as part of a day-to-day habit (just like smoking cigarettes is a day-to-day routine for others). Pica may also be a behavioral response to stress.
Another description is that pica is a cultural feature of particular spiritual routines, herbal remedies, and magical beliefs. For example, some individuals in different cultures believe that consuming dirt will assist them incorporate magical spirits into their bodies.
None of these theories, though, discusses every type of pica. A doctor should treat each case separately to aim to comprehend what’s triggering the condition.
When to Call the Doctor
If your child is at risk for pica, talk to your doctor. If your child has actually consumed a damaging substance, seek medical care instantly. If you think your child has ingested something dangerous, call Toxin Control at -LRB-800-RRB- 222-1222.
A child who continues to take in nonfood items might be at risk for major health issue, including:
- lead poisoning (from eating lead-based paint chips or dirt polluted with lead)
- constipation or diarrhea (from consuming indigestible substances like hair, fabric, and so on)
- intestinal tract obstruction or perforation (from eating items that might block or injure the intestinal tracts)
- tooth or mouth injuries (from consuming difficult compounds that could damage the teeth)
- parasitic and other infections (from consuming dirt, feces, or other infected substances)
Medical emergency situations and death can occur if the yearned for compound is poisonous or contaminated with lead or mercury, or if the product forms an indigestible mass obstructing the intestinal tracts. Pica including lead-containing substances during pregnancy might be related to a boost in both maternal and fetal lead levels.
What Will the Doctor Do?
Your doctor will play an important function in assisting you handle and prevent pica-related behaviors, informing you on teaching your child about acceptable and unacceptable food compounds. The doctor will also deal with you on ways to restrict the nonfood items your child craves (i.e., utilizing child-safety locks and high shelving, and keeping household chemicals and medications out of reach).
Some kids require behavioral intervention and families might need to work with a psychologist or other psychological health professional.
Medication might also be prescribed if pica is connected with considerable behavioral problems not reacting to behavioral treatments.
Your doctor may look for anemia or other dietary shortages. A child who has actually ingested a possibly damaging compound, such as lead, will be screened for lead and other harmful substances and might go through stool testing for parasites. In many cases, X-rays or other imaging might be practical to identify what was consumed or to try to find bowel problems, such as an obstruction.
Luckily, pica generally improves as kids get older. But for people with developmental or psychological health concerns, pica might continue to be problem. Ongoing treatment and maintaining a safe environment and are crucial to handling this condition.