Pica: Common but Commonly Missed

, , and , Department of Family Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit.

J Am Board Fam Med. 2000;13(5) 

In This Article

Prevalence

There have been few epidemiologic studies detailing the prevalence of pica. Estimates have varied widely within a particular population, depending on the criteria used.[1,8] Pica behavior is more common in low socioeconomic and underdeveloped areas.[2,4,8,9] Edwards et al[3] studied pica in 553 urban, pregnant, otherwise healthy African-American women. She found that there was no reported geophagia in the sample studied, but that pagophagia occurred in 8.1% of respondents who also had low ferritin levels and mean corpuscular volumes. A similar rate of pica was found in a study of 321 pregnant Saudi Arabian women in 1995, with 8.8% of women reporting pica, particularly geophagia and pagophagia.[10]

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