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Health Information For Parents
Pica is an eating disorder in which a person eats things not usually considered food. Young kids often put non-food items (like grass or toys) in their mouths because they’re curious about the world around them. But kids with pica (PIE-kuh) go beyond that. Sometimes they eat things that can lead to health problems.
People with pica crave and eat non-food items such as:
Health problems can happen in kids with pica, depending on what they eat. These can include:
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes pica. But it’s more common in people with:
Most cases of pica happen in young children and pregnant women. It’s normal for kids up to 2 years old to put things in their mouth. So the behavior isn’t usually considered a disorder unless a child is older than 2.
Pica usually improves as kids get older. But for people with developmental or mental health concerns, it can still be a problem later in life.
Doctors might think it’s pica if a child eats non-food items and:
Doctors also might:
Doctors can help parents manage and stop pica-related behaviors. For example, they can work with parents on ways to prevent kids from getting the non-food things they eat. They may recommend childproof locks and high shelving to keep items out of reach.
Some kids with pica need help from a psychologist or other mental health professional. If these treatments do not work, doctors can also prescribe medicines.
Eating disorders are common among teens and kids, especially young women. Read about the warning signs, prevention strategies, and ways to help a child with an eating disorder.
Long-term exposure to lead can cause serious health problems, particularly in young kids, so it’s important to find out whether your child might be at risk for lead exposure.
Nail biting, hair twirling, thumb sucking, and nose picking – these childhood habits are common. Here’s how to deal with them.
Most kids grow well but some have âfailure to thrive.â This means they don’t gain weight as expected and may not grow as tall as they should.
You might think of babies and toddlers when you hear the words “babyproofing” or “childproofing,” but unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 and under.
If you think that your child has taken a poison and he or she is not alert, call 911. Otherwise, contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
From fertilizer to antifreeze and medicines to makeup, poisonous items are throughout our homes. Here’s how to protect your kids from ingesting a poisonous substance.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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