Amylophagia presenting as gestational diabetes.Arch Fam Med 2000; 9(7):649-52AF
Amylophagia, or the practice of consuming purified starch, is a particular expression of the more general phenomenon of pica. This compulsive dietary aberration, observed in many pregnant patients worldwide, is common among rural African American women in the southern United States. The effect this practice has on the course of gestational diabetes has not been examined. We report 2 cases of gestational diabetes, refractory to initial dietary management, in which the patients were consuming one-half to 1 box of cornstarch per day. Following cessation of amylophagia, the gestational hyperglycemia spontaneously resolved. Amylophagia is a complex behavioral phenomenon arising from the interplay of biochemical, hematological, psychological, and cultural factors. In some patient populations, it may represent an often overlooked etiologic or exacerbating factor in the condition of gestational diabetes. Family physicians practicing obstetrics should inquire about amylophagia in patients who are at risk for this behavior and in patients who present with gestational hyperglycemia.