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Characteristics of Pica Behavior among Mothers around Lake Victoria, Kenya: A Cross-Sectional Study.

  • Author(s): Chung, Esther O
  • Mattah, Brian
  • Hickey, Matthew D
  • Salmen, Charles R
  • Milner, Erin M
  • Bukusi, Elizabeth A
  • Brashares, Justin S
  • Young, Sera L
  • Fernald, Lia CH
  • Fiorella, Kathryn J
  • et al.
Abstract

Background: Pica, the craving and purposeful consumption of nonfoods, is poorly understood. We described the prevalence of pica among women on Mfangano Island, Kenya, and examined sociodemographic and health correlates. Methods: Our cross-sectional study included 299 pregnant or postpartum women in 2012. We used a 24-h recall to assess pica, defined as consumption of earth (geophagy), charcoal/ash, or raw starches (amylophagy) and built multivariable logistic regression models to examine sociodemographic and health correlates of pica. Results: Eighty-one women (27.1%) engaged in pica in the previous 24 h, with 59.3% reporting amylophagy and 56.8% reporting geophagy, charcoal, and/or ash consumption. The most common substances consumed were raw cassava (n = 30, 36.6%), odowa, a chalky, soft rock-like earth (n = 21, 25.6%), and soil (n = 17, 20.7%). Geophagy, charcoal, and/or ash consumption was negatively associated with breastfeeding (OR = 0.38, 95% CI: 0.18-0.81), and amylophagy was associated with pregnancy (OR = 4.31, 95% CI: 1.24-14.96). Pica was more common within one of six study regions (OR = 3.64, 95% CI: 1.39-9.51). We found no evidence of an association between food insecurity and pica. Conclusion: Pica was a common behavior among women, and the prevalence underscores the need to uncover its dietary, environmental, and cultural etiologies.

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