What is the role of pica in iron deficiency anemia?

Updated: Sep 30, 2020
  • Author: James L Harper, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Pica is not a cause of iron deficiency anemia; pica is a symptom of iron deficiency anemia. It is the link between iron deficiency anemia and lead poisoning, which is why iron deficiency anemia should always be sought when a child is diagnosed with lead poisoning. Hippocrates recognized clay eating; however, modern physicians often do not recognize it unless the patient and family are specifically queried. Both substances decrease the absorption of dietary iron. Clay eating occurs worldwide in all races, though it is more common in Asia Minor. Starch eating is a habit in females of African heritage, and it often is started in pregnancy as a treatment for morning sickness.

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