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Sunday, January 25, 2009


My wife was a quite worried about eating seafood as she is in the first trimester and some seafood is known to contain high levels of mercury, and so I did a google search on it. As I was reading an article about eating during pregnancy from KidsHealth, at the food cravings section, I came across this word - Pica.

What in the world is Pica?? The only Pica I know is the noise that Pikachu made in Pokemon LOL! So I clicked on the link and this is what I learnt:-

Pica is an eating/medical disorder (it's also a unit of measurement, but that's not what I'm talking about) characterized by having an appetite mostly for nonfood or non-nutritive items which can also include food ingredients.

While it's normal for young kids to put various items into their mouth (most kids do that at some point in time) since it's how they explore and learn about their surroundings, kids with Pica goes beyond innocent exploration and it's characterized by persistant and complusive cravings.

Pica can be seen in young children (especially those who are developmentally disabled), pregnant women (as food cravings), people with epilepsy and also in animal (mostly dogs). It can last for one month or longer.

Here are some examples of nonfood items people with Pica normally crave or consume (source: KidsHealth):-
- dirt
- clay
- paint chips
- plaster
- chalk
- cornstarch
- laundry starch
- baking soda
- coffee grounds
- cigarette ashes
- burnt match heads
- cigarette butts
- feces
- ice
- glue
- hair
- buttons
- paper
- sand
- toothpaste
- soap

Below is a picture of items found in a pica patient's stomach (picture obtained from Wikipedia)

1,440 items found in a patient suffering from Pica

Ewww!! We learn new things everyday, and I learned that we're living in a crazy world that's always full of surprises LOL!!

To read more about Pica such as signs and causes of it; treatment etc, please visit the sites below for more information.

1. Wikipedia
2. KidsHealth



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