Pica is an eating disorder typically defined as the persistent eating of nonnutritive substances for a period of at least one month at an age in which the behavior is developmentally inappropriate. Individuals suffering from pica mouth and/or ingest a variety of substances, including, but not limited to, clay, dirt, stones, hair, feces, lead, plastic, paper, paint chips, chalk, and wood. Pica's etiology is unknown; however, hypotheses ranging from psychosocial causes to biochemical factors have been implicated. The prevalence of pica is also unknown because the disorder is often unrecognized or underreported. However, it is most commonly reported in children and individuals with mental retardation. Complications associated with pica range from mild to life-threatening, depending on the materials ingested and the subsequent medical consequences. Individuals ...

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