(HealthDay News) -- Pica often affects children with developmental disorders, pregnant women and sometimes people with epilepsy. It's characterized by a craving to eat non-food substances, such as paint, plaster, chalk, cornstarch, dirt or cigarettes.
The Nemours Foundation mentions these possible triggers for pica:
- Being deficient in vitamins and minerals, such as iron or zinc.
- Dieting too strictly.
- Being malnourished.
- Lack of parental supervision.
- Having a developmental problem, such as autism or mental retardation.
- Having certain mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia or obsessive compulsive disorder.