[Iron deficiency and pica].Sangre (Barc) 1998; 43(1):31-4S
To study the relationship between pica and iron-lack anaemia in a series of iron-deficiency patients in order to establish the pathogenesis of such relationship.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
Four-hundred and thirty-three patients were analysed. Pica was studied by introducing certain diet queries into the clinical history. All patients received oral iron and were periodically controlled with the usual clinico-haematological procedures.
Pica was present in 23 patients (5.3%). Eight nourishing (namely, coffee grains, almonds, chocolate, ice, lettuce, carrots, sunflower seeds and bread) and 2 non-nourishing (clay and paper) substances were involved. A second episode of pica appeared in 9 cases upon relapsing of iron deficiency. Both anaemia and pica were cured by etiologic and substitutive therapy in all instances. No clear correlation was found with either socio-economic status or pathogenetic causes of iron deficiency and pica, and no haematological differences were seen between patients with pica and those without this alteration.
(1) The pathogenesis of pica is unclear, although it appears unrelated to the degree of iron deficiency. (2) According to the findings in this series, pica seems a consequence of iron deficiency rather than its cause. (3) Adequate therapy can cure both conditions, although pica may reappear upon relapse of iron deficiency.