TBP Content Team
Submit to TBP
Health & Disease
History & Culture
Gender and Sexuality
History of Medicine
Poetry and Creative Writing
Blood Vessel Glass Sculpture Series
Did you know?
Pica – Types
Different types of pica.
The Latin word
indicates a bird, the magpie, which is known to eat indiscriminately whatever it finds. When used medically, the term refers to the compulsive eating of nonedible substances for > 1 month. The name of the habit differs according to the substance eaten. Shown here is
, the eating of at least a tray of ice daily for 2 months or of ice chips (the most common type of pica, affecting 25% of iron-deficient patients);
, the intentional consumption of earth;
, the consumption of cigarette ashes and heads of burn matches, respectively;
, the eating of starch and uncooked pasta; and
, the consumption of paper, including toilet paper. The term
refers to the compulsive eating of one particular food, especially if crunchy, such as carrots, cabbage, and turnips. Pica is present in up to 55% of patients with iron deficiency, but it is not specific to iron deficiency. It is also seen in pregnant women and preadolescents (consumption of clay especially prevalent). See next slide for a list of types of pica and their proposed names.