Pica is defined as eating substances that have no or little obvious nutritional value. Pica is observed in pregnant women, individuals with medical conditions, such as sickle cell disease and lead poisoning, and as part of various cultural phenomena, including certain religious practices. Pica in individuals with developmental disabilities is mostly seen in individuals with severe or profound intellectual disabilities and in those who are relatively asocial. This entry defines pica and explores its diagnosis and treatment.

Defining Pica

In individuals with developmental disabilities, pica can be distinguished from hand- and object-mouthing because it involves consumption rather than mouthing of the object. Common forms of pica involve eating dirt, leaves, coffee grounds, cigarette butts, body fluids, feces, and small objects, such as buttons, cloth, metal screws, paper, ...

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