Pica and iron deficiency: a problematic relationship
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
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