Saturday, August 20, 2011


Pica is a medical disorder characterized by an appetite for substances largely non-nutritive (e.g., metal, clay, coal, sand, dirt, soil, feces, chalk, pens and pencils, paper, batteries, spoons, toothbrushes, soap, mucus, latex gloves, ash, gum, lip balm, tacks and other office supplies, etc.) The name of the condition originates from the Latin word for magpie, a bird that is reputed to eat almost anything. Pica is seen in all ages, particularly in pregnant women, small children, and those with developmental disabilities. Pica is more common in women and children. Pica can also be found in animals and is most commonly found in dogs.

The scant research that has been done on the causes of pica suggests that the disorder is a specific appetite caused by mineral deficiency in many cases, such as iron deficiency, which sometimes is a result of celiac disease or hookworm infection. Often the substance eaten by someone with pica contains the mineral in which that individual is deficient. More recently, cases of pica have been tied to the obsessive–compulsive spectrum, and there is a move to consider OCD in the etiology of pica; however, pica is currently recognized as a mental disorder by the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV)..

Coprophagy: Consumption of feces
Geophagy: Consumption of soil, clay, or chalk
Hyalophagia: Consumption of glass
Mucophagia: Consumption of mucus
Odowa: Consumption of soft stones eaten by pregnant women in Kenya
Pagophagia: Pathological consumption of ice
Self-cannibalism: Rare condition where body parts may be consumed; see also Lesch-Nyhan syndrome
Trichophagia: Consumption of hair or wool
Urophagia: Consumption of urine
Xylophagia: Consumption of wood or paper