Pica: A Look Into A Little-Known Eating Disorder Essay

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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 sometimes even the mouthing of substances of a non-nutritional nature as well. Though in order for this behavior to be considered pica, it must occur for an amount of time equal to or greater than one month at an age where it would be considered developmentally inappropriate, which would be greater than 18-24 months old. Unfortunately there are no known causes of pica so it’s virtually impossible to get a full grasp on the disorder but there have been some hypotheses as to why it occurs.

One hypothesis is that it could be due to nutritional deficiencies. There isn’t any solid evidence to prove that belief but pica has been associated with a lack of iron, calcium, zinc, and other nutrients including vitamins C and D so despite the lack of evidence, some believe that the claim does hold water. However, even if a mineral deficiency is the cause, most times the item that gets ingested contains absolutely no trace of the mineral their body is missing so this behavior not only persists but it can ...

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2. Gavin, Mary L. “Pica”. January 2011.

3. “Pica Eating Disorders”

4. Stewart, Kristen. “Pica – The Eating Disorder That’s Not About Food”. 10 May 2010.

5. “4 Ways to Detect Pica Disorder”

6. “Eating Disorder – Pica”

7. “Eating Disorders: Pica”. 22 December 2008.

8. “Pica Eating Disorder – What Are Pica Symptoms And Behaviors?”

9. “Pica (disorder)”

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