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Rev Med Chil. 2005 May;133(5):609-11. Epub 2005 Jun 17.

[Pica, a strange symptom unveiled even in "Don Quixote"].

[Article in Spanish]

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Sección Hematología, Departamento de Medicina, Hospital Clínico, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.


Pica, the compulsive eating of non edible substances, is known by the medical profession for centuries. In the novel by Miguel de Cervantes "Adventures of the famous knight Don Quixote de la Mancha'', there is a history in which "women that by caprice eat soil, plaster coal and other disgusting substances'' are mentioned. This description configures the clinical diagnosis of pica. This fact has not attracted the attention of the critics of Cervantes' novel, up to now. This unequivocal reference of pica suggests that iron deficiency anemia, caused by chronic hemorrhages in adults, was frequent in 1605, when the book was first published.

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