Pica: A Look Into A Little-Known Eating Disorder

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Despite being the most prevalent eating disorder amongst individuals with developmental disabilities and may occur in as many as 25%-33% of children, there is much that is still unknown about pica. There has been little advancement in finding out what causes this disorder and because of that, treating and even diagnosing pica can be difficult. In addition to that, pica can have health consequences that range from mild to severe so, when coupled with the difficulty in treatment and lack of breakthrough research, pica has the potential to be an extremely dangerous disorder.

Pica is, for the most part, defined as the desire to consume non-nutritive substances. However, it can also cover an abnormal appetite for food ingredients and
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However, even though some deficiencies may indeed cause pica, not everyone that is treated based off of that assumption is cured so that does place some weight on the side of those who don’t believe that this is a valid cause of pica.

Some other hypotheses are that pica could be due to cultural or familial factors, stress, and even a low socioeconomic status. In some cultures, pica can be deemed as acceptable amongst your family and/or friends. To give an example, here in the United States, some believe that the consuming of starch while pregnant can help to rid or lessen the effects of morning sickness. In some cases, that belief has been passed down from parent to child so the behavior can span multiple generations without any indication that it is anything but normal. The claim that a low socioeconomic status could contribute to the development of this condition stems from the fact that ingesting paint is most common in children that fall under that category and could be explained by a lack of parental supervision. It’s also believed that malnutrition could also contribute to the formation of this disorder and that’s another reason why the belief that socioeconomic status could play a role.

Whatever the cause may be, one simple fact is that pica can affect anybody. Unfortunately, those most at risk

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