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Implications of

Pica during
Pregnancy
Dietary Sources of
Iron

Pica should not be
ignored

As low hemoglobin levels
are seen in those with pica,
consider these iron sources

For more information
please refer to these
helpful sites:

Food

Iron

Mollusks-clams,
mussels, oysters

24mg/3oz

Liver- chicken,
beef, turkey,
lamb, pork

26mg/4oz

Squash/Pumpkin
Seeds

34mg/1 cup

Nuts

7.8mg/1cup

Beef/Lamb

3.1mg/3oz

Beans and lentils

6.6mg/1cup

Whole grains,
cereals, brans

2.8mg/1cup

Dark Leafy
Greens

6mg/ 1 cup
cooked

Dark Chocolate

5mg/square

Tofu

3.4mg/1cup

www.americanpregn
ancy.org
www.cdc.gov
www.kidshealth.org


By: Erin Jacoby and Brittany Wynn

Risks, Prevention,
Treatment



Terminology
Pica: the compulsion for persistent
ingestion of non-food items such as
soil, clay, chalk, ice, rocks, soap,
sand, and other items. The term pica
comes from the Latin word pica pica
which is the scientific name of the
Magpie bird, notorious for its greedy
appetite and trying to eat a variety of
non-food substances.

Risks, Treatment, Prevention
Risks
Consumption of these non-food substances can
pose potential risks to both mother and neonate:

Items could contain: arsenic, lead, harmful
microorganisms, toxicity of minerals.

Could cause: gastrointestinal upset,
intestinal obstruction, interfere with
mineral absorption, hyperkalemia, lead
poisoning, phosphorus intoxication, low
bone mineralization, dental damage,
toxoplasmosis, parasitoses, aluminum
toxicity, small head circumferences to
neonates.

Pica is seen early in first few months of
pregnancy when nutrition is crucial for
mother and fetus

Treatment

Seek advice from physician when
exhibiting pica behavior.

Medical testing may be required to ensure
no negative outcomes, assess nutritional
status, and test iron levels.

Nutrition education & iron supplements

Prevention

Eat a well-balanced diet.

Lower hemoglobin levels found
consistently in women with pica.

Ensure adequate iron intake. RDA
18mg/day for women, 27mg/day pregnant

Increased iron needs could be related to
increase of pica during pregnancy.

Geophagia: consuming earth
material, such as clay or soil. This
has may potentially harmful side
effects. These materials may contain
dangerous chemicals, like fertilizers,
or different kinds of harmful bacteria.
Pagophagia: the consumption of ice.
The frequent consumption of ice can
decrease absorption of nutrients by
the gastrointestinal tract. This could
lead to anemia and risk of ingesting
microbial contaminants from the
freezer items, such as meats.
Polyphagia: the consumption of two
or more non-nutritive substances in
the same time period. Since it is an
increase in variety of non-food
substances consumed it could also
increase the risks of negative
outcomes.
Amylophagia: the consumption of
starch items such as cornstarch or
laundry detergent. This could lead to
iron deficiencies.