Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Annu Rev Nutr. 2010 Aug 21;30:403-22. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.012809.104713.

Pica in pregnancy: new ideas about an old condition.

Author information

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of California, Davis, California 95817, USA.


Pica, the purposive consumption of nonfood substances, is a millennia-old nutritional enigma. Its worldwide ubiquity, prevalence among pregnant women and children, and association with both positive and negative health outcomes, especially micronutrient deficiencies, underscore the importance of understanding this behavior. Multiple proposed etiologies of pica are reviewed, including cultural expectations, psychological stress, hunger, dyspepsia, micronutrient deficiencies (Fe, Zn, and Ca), and protection against toxins and pathogens. Currently available data, although limited, best support the protection hypothesis as a cause of most types of pica, although some evidence suggests that pagophagy (ice consumption) may occur during iron deficiency. It is possible that the binding capacity of pica substances explains the association with micronutrient deficiencies; earth, starch, etc. may render micronutrients in ingesta unavailable for absorption. Increased research efforts are warranted and must be hypothesis driven, interdisciplinary, and permit the testing of multiple causal inferences.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Atypon
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk