Pica: common but commonly missed.J Am Board Fam Pract 2000 Sep-Oct; 13(5):353-8JA
Pica is the compulsive eating of nonnutritive substances and can have serious medical implications. Although it has been described since antiquity, there has been no single agreed-upon explanation of the cause of such behavior.
Databases from MEDLINE and PSYCH-Lit were searched from 1964 to the present to find relevant sources of information using the key words "pica," "obsessive-compulsive disorder," "iron-deficiency anemia," and "nutrition."
RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS
Pica is observed most commonly in areas of low socioeconomic status and is more common in women (especially pregnant women) and in children. To our knowledge, the prevalence of pica is not known. Numerous complications of the disorder have been described, including iron-deficiency anemia, lead poisoning, and helminthic infestations. Pica is probably a behavior pattern driven by multiple factors. Some recent evidence supports including pica with the obsessive-compulsive spectrum of disorders. Many different treatment regimens have been described, with variable responses. It is important to be aware of this common, but commonly missed, condition.