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Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2004 Mar;54(1):17-24.

[Pica during pregnancy: a frequently underestimated problem].

[Article in Spanish]

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Escuela de Nutrición, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires.


Pica is the compulsive intake of non-nutritive substances such as earth, clay, chalk, soap and ice. The most common forms of pica are geophagia or the intake of earth and pagophagia or the intake of ice. The description of this peculiar phenomenon dates back to the Greco-Roman civilization. Its prevalence during pregnancy is generally underestimated. Published data reveal a prevalence of between 8% and 65%. Investigations from Latin America indicate a prevalence of 23% to 44%. It is not clear yet which are the causes that predispose to pica, but they are frequently associated with anemia or iron deficiency during pregnancy. Its diagnosis, which only consists in questioning pregnant women, is generally omitted during prenatal care, probably because health professionals have no knowledge about this disorder. The identification of pica in pregnant women could contribute to the detection of a risk group where it is necessary to implement strategies as regards both the evaluation and the nutritional education.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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