Parents in most cases are really worried because their toddler is not eating well when it comes to food. However they like to put everything else right into their mouths. In most cases it is very normal because children at this age are very active and like to explore all that they can put their hands on.

However, if your child is continuously eating mud or other non-nutritive substances they might have developed an eating disorder. Here is all you need to know about this eating disorder in detail;


When it comes to children exploring everything they are naturally curious however, in some cases children say no to the actual food and develop a habit of eating mud, hair, feces, plaster, chalk, ash, rust, corn starch, soap, sandpaper etc.

This indicates that your child has an eating disorder called Pica and you should have them checked by a doctor.

children eating dirt

How common is Pica in children?

Pica disorder is very common in children. From 10 to 20% of children, have this eating disorder at some point in their life before adulthood. This eating disorder is commonly found in children who already suffer conditions like autism, epilepsy, mental retardation etc.

Surprisingly, a lot of adults also develop Pica. Women who are pregnant in a lot of cases crave for things which are non-edible. This disorder is also common in people who want to lose their weight because they would eat non-edible items to cut down their appetite.


Researchers and doctors have been trying for years and years to find the cause of Pica but it is still unknown. There are so many theories about the proposed causes of this eating disorder but the most famous one is that iron and zinc deficiency combined with emotional disturbances can cause Pica. Some people with schizophrenia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) may develop pica as a coping mechanism for these mental conditions.

children eating dirt

Health complications

There are a lot of health complications which follow the continuous use of non-food items. Some of these prominent complications include;

  • Intestinal blockages
  • Parasitic infestation and worms
  • Lead poisoning
  • Choking


Doctor will always begin the treatment of pica with the treatment of the complications caused by eating these non-food items. Iron supplements and de-worming agents are subscribed by doctors in this eating disorder. Teaching your children about food and non-food items is very important at an early age.

Get proper treatment if you see signs of this eating disorder in children. If your child stops consuming non-food items after the treatment no further treatment might be needed.

Posted by:Aqeela Nawaz Malik

A free soul.

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