what is pica syndrome?


Pica syndrome is an eating disorder that leads to long-term cravings for non-eatable items. A person with pica can have the urge to eat all matter of objects such as coins, chalk, burned match-sticks, clothes, cigarette butts etc.

Causes of pica syndrome

Pica is found more in young children than adults. Nearly 10-32% of children falling between the ages of 1-6 have these behaviors. It can also occur during pregnancy.Usually, a lack of certain nutrients, such as zinc deficiency and iron deficiency, may stimulate the unusual cravings of eating inedible things.

Signs & symptoms

Some of the common signs of pica syndrome include when you find children and adults eat:
·         Clay
·         Sand
·         Paint
·         Animal feces
·         Dirt
·         Ice
·         Hairballs

This pattern of eating should be observed at least for 1 month to diagnose for pica syndrome.

Tests & Diagnosis

There is no single test to confirm pica syndrome. However, as pica syndrome can be seen in people with nutrient deficiency and poor nutrition, the doctor may have to test the levels of iron and zinc in the blood. Blood tests can also be conducted to check for anemia. For children who have eaten paint or other lead covered objects, the healthcare provider has to test the lead levels.


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