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Pica is an eating disorder that causes a person to crave and eat non-food items that have no nutritional value. It is more common in children and teens with sickle cell disease.
People with sickle cell disease have a higher rate of pica than the general population. Experts do not know why this happens. But cases have been linked to:
If your child has pica, they will eat non-food items:
If your child’s care team suspects your child has pica, they will check your child’s lead and iron levels. This helps them determine if your child has low iron or lead poisoning.
Your child might be referred to a psychologist or therapist if their levels are normal. A therapist can help your child learn how to manage pica.
It is important to let your child’s care team know if you think your child has pica. Pica can cause health problems including:
Some of these health problems, such as blockages in the digestive tract and damaged teeth, can lead to surgery.
If you have questions or want to learn more about pica, talk with your child’s care team.
Reviewed: August 2022