Dipartimento di Scienze Mediche, Sezione di Pediatria, Università di Ferrara
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Key words: Anaemia, Iron deficiency, Geophagia, Pagophagia, Pica
Pica is the compulsive eating of non-nutritive substances and is often associated with iron deficiency but its pathophysiology is unknown. The paper is a review of the literature based on the search of online databases that was carried out using the keywords listed above. Pica has been known for centuries. Pregnant women and preadolescents are at the highest risk for the behaviour. Pica is frequently associated with iron deficiency and it might be caused directly by iron deficiency in some areas of the brain. Iron therapy usually cures it. According to some authors iron deficiency is a consequence of the introduction in the gastrointestinal tract of substances that could interfere with iron absorption. Finally, pica could be present as a manifestation of an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
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