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Pica in pregnancy

Sera Young, MA, PhD
Jean Tiffany Cox, MS, RD, LN
Section Editor
Susan M Ramin, MD
Deputy Editor
Vanessa A Barss, MD, FACOG


Pica is the craving and purposive consumption of substances not culturally defined as food. It was first reported by Hippocrates in 400 BC and has been subsequently reported by investigators on every inhabited continent [1]. This topic will provide an overview of pica, focusing on its management in pregnant women.


We define pica as the craving and purposive consumption of substances not culturally defined as food [1]. There are three main types:

Geophagy (or sometimes geophagia), the consumption of earth, including soil or other earth-rich items such as adobe, clay preparations, pottery, or bean stones (clumps of earth amongst dried beans)

Amylophagy (or amylophagia), the consumption of raw starches, including corn starch, laundry starch, raw rice, and flour

Pagophagy (or pagophagia), the consumption of large quantities of ice or freezer frost


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Apr 16, 2015.
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