Zinat Mortazavi Corresponding Author
- Public Health Department, Faculty of Health, Zahedan Medical Sciences University, Zahedan, Iran
Mehdi Mohammadi
- Department of Epidemiology & Statistics , Faculty of Health, Zahedan Medical Sciences University, Zahedan, Iran

Received: 10/1/2003 Accepted: 10/1/2003 - Publisher : Avicenna Research Institute

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Some pregnant women cravings for non-food substances with no nutritional value which is called pica such as dirt, clay, paint chips, chalk, ice, etc. Most frequently, pica occurs in children, persons with mental retardation and women during their pregnancies or while they are breast-feeding. Pica is considered to be a serious eating disorder, sometimes resulting in serious health problems such as lead poisoning, bowel blockage, and iron deficiency anemia. In a cross-sectional survey (with randomized multi stage sampling) the prevalence of pica was studied in 560 pregnant women who referred to health centers in Zahedan. Using a structured questionnaire, over a four-month period information were obtained from all mothers. The prevalence of pica among the subjects was 15.5%, in which 25.3% of them ate dirt, 60.9% ice, and others substances such as chalk, rosary praying clay, freezer frost, tea stuff and other non-food substances. Considering that pica is not limited to any culture, race, sex or socioeconomic background and also can result in dangerous and serious health problems, therefore needs to raise public awareness of the adverse effects of this practice is suggested.

Keywords: Pica, Women, Pregnancy, Prevalence, non-food substabces, Complications, Eating disorder

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