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Dr Rafia Hussain, Dr Iqra Shahzadi, Dr Zeeshan Mohammad Mirza, Dr Sohaib Ul Hassan, Dr Usman Khalid


Background: "Pica-the persistent craving for non food items", is known to exist among both humans and animals since ancient times. Its importance especially among children cannot be undermined due to various adverse effects associated with prolonged intake of non-food articles; most important being lead poisoning among cement consumers, anemia among earth consumers and constipation, intestinal obstruction and parasitic infections among the others. The exact prevalence of pica still remains to be the submerged portion of the iceberg. Objectives: To determine the frequency and associations of the pica among the pediatric population aged 8 months to 144 months (12 years) of age attending out-patient pediatric department of Ghurki Trust Teaching Hospital Lahore. Materials and Methods: An analytical cross-sectional study conducted from 1st October to 1st of December 2018 in the outpatient department of Pediatric medicine in Ghurki Trust Teaching hospital Lahore. A sample of 180 Paediatric patients was randomly selected and data was collected by a structured questionaire. Results: Out of 180 children (n=180), 59% were male and 41% were female with the mean age of 55.02 + 35.605 SD months.55 (30.55%) children consumed non-food items while 125 (69.44%) did not. Out of those 55 children who consumed non-food items, 61.8% children consumed earth / mud. 98.81% were eating non-food items for more than one month.25.4% of the total children who consumed non-food items, started the consumption at the age of 8 to 12 months, 54.5% at the age of 1 to 2 years. Mothers of only 34.5% of the total non-food item consuming - children consulted a medical practitioner regarding this issue while the rest of the 65.4% of children were never taken for any consultation. 72.72% children among those consuming non-food items suffered physical abuse by their mothers in order to get rid of this behavior. On examination, 78 (43.33%) children had conjunctival pallor. Coclusion: A considerable number of our pediatric patient population is indulged in pica, the most common substance being consumed is earth and mud. The usual age of onset is 1-2 years and the duration prolonging over more than a month often found associated with the presence of conjuctival pallor viz anemia. A vast majority is not taken for any consultation with a doctor while an even larger majority suffered physical abuse by the mothers to get rid of this behavior. Keywords: pica, pediatric patients, pattern, associated factors


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