Pica syndrome

INTRODUCTION:
  • Pica is the persistent eating of substances such as dirt or paint that have no nutritional value.
  • It is a pre-school problem seen mostly below 3 years
SUBTYPES:
  • Pica is the consumption of substances with no significant nutritional value such as soil, soap or ice.
  • Subtypes are characterized by the substance eaten:
  • Acuphagia (sharp objects)
  • Amylophagia (starch)
  • Cautopyreiophagia (burnt matches)
  • Coniophagia (dust)
  • Coprophagia (feces)
  • Emetophagia (vomit)
  • Geomelophagia (raw potatoes)
  • Geophagia (dirt, soil, clay)
  • Hyalophagia (glass)
  • Lithophagia (stones)
  • Mucophagia (mucus of invertebrates and fish)
  • Pagophagia (ice)
  • Plumbophagia (lead)
  • Trichophagia (hair, wool, and other fibers)
  • Urophagia (urine)
  • Hematophagia (Vampirism) (blood)
  • Xylophagia (wood)
DIAGNOSIS:
  • Medical evaluation:
  1. Anemia
  2. Intestinal blockages, or potential toxicity from ingested substances.
  3. Toxins and other substances in the blood,
  • Eating habit
  • Presence of other disorders- such as mental retardation, developmental disabilities, or obsessive-compulsive disorder - as the cause of the odd eating behavior.
  • This pattern of behavior must last at least one month for a diagnosis of pica to be made.
TREATMENT:
  • Given the risk of medical complications (such as lead poisoning) associated with pica, close medical monitoring is necessary throughout treatment of the eating behavior.
  • Additionally, close collaboration with a mental health team skilled in treating pica is ideal for optimal treatment of these complex cases.
COMPLICATIONS:
  • Lead or other toxic substances poisoning
  • Increasing the child's risk of complications including learning disabilities and brain damage
  • Nutritional deficiencies.
  • Constipation or blockages in the digestive tract, including the intestines and bowels.
  • Tears in the lining of the esophagus or intestines.
  • Bacteria or parasites from dirt or other objects can cause serious infections.
  • Co-existing developmental disabilities can make treatment difficult.
Exam Question
  • Pica is a pre-school problem seen in children most commonly below 3 year
  • Pica is associated with lead poisoning

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